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Business Barometer®: Manitoba small businesses start 2018 on a more optimistic note

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Winnipeg, January 25, 2018 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest Business Barometer®, which reveals small business optimism in Manitoba increased in January to an index of 61.6, compared to 57.4 in December, and now sits just 1.1 points below the national average. 

“We’re pleased to see Manitoba’s small business owners start 2018 on an upbeat note, however the index still sits almost six points below where it was at this time last year,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. “With many costs rising in 2018 and 2019, we’ve asked for small business tax relief to be a priority in the upcoming Manitoba Budget.” 

Nationally, small business owners are beginning the New Year on a more confident note, as the CFIB’s  monthly index jumped three points in January to 62.7 (out of 100), its best reading since hitting a cyclical high of 66.0 last May.
“Despite a positive reading to begin the year, the index remains below the levels where the small business community is growing at its potential,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB vice-president and chief economist. “While we’re seeing a lot of forward momentum, minimum wage plans across the country have a higher than normal number of businesses expecting to cut back on staffing levels, and plans to increase both wages and prices remain high.”

Sentiment improved in 8 of 10 provinces, but there appeared to be some growing divergence between the most and least optimistic regions. Once again, business owners in Quebec (71.3), British Columbia (66.7) and Nova Scotia (63.9) led the country and all three areas showed healthy gains over December results. Month-over-month improvements were also significant in Manitoba (61.6), New Brunswick (56.9) and Saskatchewan (53.6), though they still lag the national average. There was only a small improvement in Ontario (58.7), while sentiment in Alberta (59.4) dropped half a step back. Optimism is lowest in Newfoundland & Labrador (51.8) and now Prince Edward Island (52.4).Results and the full report are available at: www.cfib-fcei.ca/english/barometer 

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for January:

  • 53% of small businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (44% nationally); 11% say it is bad (10% nationally).
  • 17% of Manitoba small businesses plan to increase full-time employment in the next 3-4 months (19% nationally), and 13% plan to decrease employment (16% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (32%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (30%), and management skills/time constraints (28%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax/regulatory costs (68%), wage costs (57%), and insurance costs (39%).

Measured on a scale of 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their businesses’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. According to past results, index levels normally range between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. January 2018 findings are based on 840 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through January 15. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.4 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 1 888-234-2232, 204-982-0817 or email [email protected]. 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 call (416) 222-8022 or email [email protected]. You may also follow Ted on Twitter @cfibeconomics. 

Business Barometer® is a monthly publication of the CFIB and is a registered trademark. 

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members (4,800 in Manitoba) across every sector and region.