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Business Barometer®: BC small business confidence continues downward trend

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For the first time in five years, BC business optimism falls below national level.

VANCOUVER, May 31, 2018 – Small business owners in British Columbia are feeling less optimistic about the future of their businesses than they have in previous months. According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) Business Barometer, small business optimism has fallen another 2.6 points to 58.8.

This continues a trend that began in March with small business optimism declining 10.7 points throughout the last three months. This is the first month that BC has fallen below the national average (62.5) since February, 2013. It has the fourth lowest score on the index. Only Alberta (53.2), Newfoundland (49.3) and Saskatchewan (49) have lower scores.

Measured on a scale between 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. An index level of between 65 and 75 means the economy is growing at its potential.

To view the full report, please visit http://www.cfib.ca/barometer

"British Columbia is falling behind other provinces for being considered a good place to do business," said Richard Truscott, Vice President, BC and Alberta. "It is time for the government to take notice and change their small business strategy as it appears the current strategy of the provincial government is not working."

This month’s announcement of a Small Business Task Force to consult with small business owners on how the provincial government can create a better business environment is encouraging. According to the Business Barometer, the largest issues facing BC small business are a shortage of skilled labour, taxes and regulatory costs. The government should take a close look at these issues in its Task Force.

Despite the fact that firms are facing challenges finding the workers that they need, firms will be hiring less this summer than in the past. Only fifteen percent of business owners indicated that they plan to increase staff in the next three months, down eight percent from April and thirteen percent from last May. This means that summer jobs could be in short supply this year.

However, BC business owners still largely feel good about their business situation today. 44 per cent see their business health as good, down two points from April. 9 per cent see it as bad, down 3 points from April.

The national Business Barometer index was 62.5, up 5.9 points from April. The other provincial numbers were: Prince Edward Island (70.5); Quebec (68.1); Ontario (64.7); Nova Scotia (63.4); New Brunswick (60.6); Manitoba (59.3); British Columbia (58.8); Alberta (53.2); Newfoundland and Labrador (49.3); and Saskatchewan (49.0).

The May 2018 findings are based on 618 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflects responses received through to May 18, 2018. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.9 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with Richard Truscott about the BC results, please call 604-684-5325 or email [email protected] after 8:30 AM PT.  To interview Chief Economist, Ted Mallett, about the national results, please call 416-222-8022. For more information, visit cfib.ca.

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region, including 10,000 in B.C.