Business Barometer: Small business optimism improves in August

August 29, 2019 – Small business optimism improved slightly in August, rising 2.8 index points to 60.6 on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Business Barometer®.

“It’s always good to see sentiment advance, but this is only the second time this year that business confidence has been above the 60-point mark,” said Simon Gaudreault, CFIB’s senior director of national research. “Clearly, we still have room to improve, as reflected in this month’s weak hiring plans.”

Overall, 41 per cent of owners estimate their business is in a good state, compared to 10 per cent who say it is in a bad state. Only 16 per cent of owners indicated that they plan to add on full-time staff in the next three months, while 13 per cent plan to cut back.

An index level nearer to 65 indicates that the economy is growing at its potential.

Provincial results: Eight out of 10 provinces post higher results

Quebec (67.7) had the highest confidence level in the country, followed by Nova-Scotia (67.2), which also experienced the greatest increase in optimism. Prince Edward Island (66.7), Manitoba (62.1) and New Brunswick (61.3) also posted results above the national average. Ontario experienced a 3.9 index point increase, but came in just below the national average with 59.9. Newfoundland & Labrador gained 3.2 index points, but was the least optimistic province at 53.2, followed by Alberta (54.3), British Columbia (55.3) and Saskatchewan (55.4).

Industry results: Agriculture and retail remain least optimistic sectors

The information industry gained 5.1 index points and reached the top spot at 66.0, followed by hospitality (65.2) and finance (64.4). Professional services saw the biggest improvement, gaining 5.5 index points to 63.6. Transportation experienced the biggest drop in confidence, losing 5.2 index points to 55.3. Agriculture remained the least optimistic sector at 51.4, followed by retail (53.6).  

Read the August Business Barometer® 

August 2019 findings are based on 661 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through August 19. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.8 per cent 19 times in 20.

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every industry 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


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Dominique Des Rosiers, CFIB