Business Barometer®: Manitoba small business optimism increases slightly in September

Winnipeg, September 26, 2019 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Manitoba improved again (slightly) in September to an index of 62.6, up 0.5 points from 62.1 in August. The index remains above the national average index of 59.3. 

“Manitoba’s business optimism continues its climb, but is still nearly 3 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. “We will be keeping a close eye on what changes happen to business optimism and hiring intentions as the new provincial government is sworn in and the federal election takes place.”

Nationally, small business optimism continued its yo-yo pattern of the past year, dropping 1.3 index points in September to 59.3 on the CFIB’s Business Barometer®.

“We’ve seen a lot of this up-and-down movement in small business confidence over the year, and we have yet to see a month when we’re at a truly consistent level,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s Vice-President and Chief Economist. “The resource provinces in particular – Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia – are really lagging compared to the rest of the country.”

Provincial results: Resource provinces struggle

Quebec maintained the top spot in the country at 68.8 index points, followed by Nova Scotia (68.5) and New Brunswick (63.7). Prince Edward Island experienced the biggest drop (-3.8), but remained above the national average at 62.9 index points. Manitoba (62.6) and Ontario (60.5) did not register much movement this month, but also posted results above the national average. Alberta (54.1), Saskatchewan (53.1), British Columbia (53.1) and Newfoundland and Labrador (52.6) had the lowest confidence levels in the country.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for September:

  • 50% of businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (42% nationally); 8% say it is bad (13% nationally);
  • 17% plan to increase employment in the next 3 months (16% nationally) and 7% of Manitoba businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (15% nationally);
  • Shortage of skilled labour is the main operating challenge (39%), followed by insufficient domestic demand (32%) and management skills, time constraints (26%);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (68%), wage costs (57%), and fuel, energy costs (52%).

Read the September 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. September 2019 findings are based on 642 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received from September 2 to September 19. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.9 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, CFIB’s Vice-President and Chief Economist on the national results please contact Milena Stanoeva at 647-464-2814 or
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.