Business Barometer®: Manitoba's small business optimism continues climb in October

Winnipeg, October 31, 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 again in October with an index of 63.5, up 0.9 points from 62.6 in September. The index is nearly 4 points above the national average index of 59.8. 

“Manitoba’s business optimism saw its sixth consecutive increase to an index of 63.5, but remains 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.

Nationally, small business confidence rose by only half an index point to 59.8 on CFIB’s Business Barometer® in October.

“Business owners are in okay shape, with an optimism level at about average for the past six months, though a few points off from where we would like to see them ideally,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “This month’s findings indicate that they’re holding back for better conditions before they make major investments in their buildings, equipment or vehicles.”

CFIB’s October Business Barometer® survey was completed on October 21st, before the 2019 Federal Election results were known.

Provincial results: Eastern provinces lead in confidence

Prince Edward Island posted the highest optimism level in the country at 69.4 index points, followed by Nova Scotia (66.8), Quebec (66.7) and New Brunswick (66.5). Manitoba (63.5) and Ontario (60.0) did not register much movement this month, but reported optimism levels above the national average. Newfoundland and Labrador gained 3.2 index points, but remained below the national average at 55.8. In the West, the outlook was gloomy, with Alberta (53.6) and British Columbia (52.8) coming in well below the national average. Saskatchewan had the lowest confidence level in the country at 50.0, after losing 3.1 index points over last month.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for October:

  • 47% of businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (43% nationally); 5% say it is bad (12% nationally);
  • 17% plan to increase employment in the next 3 months (14% nationally) and 6% of Manitoba businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (14% nationally);
  • Shortage of skilled labour is the main operating challenge (39%), followed by insufficient domestic demand (32%) and management skills, time constraints (27%);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (70%), wage costs (57%), and fuel, energy costs (53%).

Read the October 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. October 2019 findings are based on 764 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received October 1 through the 21. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.5 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.