Business Barometer®: Manitoba small business optimism improves slightly in May; short-term hiring remains positive for summer

Winnipeg, May 30, 2019 - Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Manitoba increased one point in May to an index of 52.3. The index is over seven points below the national average index of 59.7.

“Manitoba’s small business confidence stopped its fall in May by improving slightly to 52.3, but is still nearly 13 points below the range of index levels (65-70) normally associated when the economy is growing at its potential,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. 

“Small businesses have been hit with cost increases at every level of government, but fortunately some tax relief is on the way in Manitoba. Recently, the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba announced a $74 million rebate of its surplus back to employers, and the PST is scheduled to decrease to seven per cent on July 1st,” added Alward. “Hopefully this is just the start of meaningful tax relief for Manitoba’s employers, and the beginning of a rebound in small business confidence.”

Nationally, small business confidence reached its highest level of 2019 this month, jumping three index points to 59.7. 

“For the first time since last November, small business confidence is narrowly above its four-year average,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s Vice-President and Chief Economist. “However, there is room for improvement and the reading is still trailing 2010-2014 norms by five or so points.”

Provincial results: Most provinces grow more optimistic; Saskatchewan least optimistic 

Confidence improved in seven out of 10 provinces this month. Prince Edward Island led the pack with an index level of 66.3, followed by Quebec (64.7), Nova Scotia (64.4) and Ontario (61.7). Alberta experienced the greatest confidence gain, rising 7.7 index points to 51.8. Manitoba (52.3) and New Brunswick (54.7) experienced modest confidence gains, but remained below the national average. British Columbia saw the greatest decrease, dropping 2.4 points to 53.1. Saskatchewan dropped 1.3 points to 49.1, the lowest spot in the country, followed by Newfoundland & Labrador (49.4).

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for May:

  • 35% of businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (43% nationally); 16% say it is bad (14% nationally);
  • 20% plan to increase employment in the next 3 months (20% nationally) and 11% of Manitoba businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (12% nationally);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (67%), wage costs (59%), and fuel, energy costs (54%);
  • Shortage of skilled labour remains the main operating challenge (40%), followed by insufficient domestic demand (32%) and management skills, time constraints (20%).

Read the May Business Barometer®

Measured on a scale of 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. One normally sees an index level of between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. May 2019 findings are based on 745 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through May 17. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with Jonathan Alward, Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba on the provincial results, please call 204-982-0817 or email You can also follow CFIB Manitoba on Twitter @cfibMB.

To arrange an interview with Ted Mallett, Vice-President & Chief Economist on the national results please contact Milena Stanoeva at 647-464-2814 or You may also follow Ted on Twitter @cfibeconomics. 

About CFIB
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (4,800 in Manitoba) across every sector and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at