Business Barometer®: May sees highest small business confidence level this year

May 30, 2019 – Small business confidence reached its highest level of 2019 this month, jumping three index points to 59.7 on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Business Barometer®.

“For the first time since last November, small business confidence is narrowly above its four-year average,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “However, there is room for improvement and the reading is still trailing 2010-2014 norms by five or so points.”

Other indicators covered by the survey show increasing stability. Overall, 43 per cent of owners say their business is in good shape, while 14 per cent say it is in bad shape. Hiring intentions typically see a seasonal bump this time of year, with 20 per cent of business owners planning to hire full-time staff, while 12 per cent plan to cut back. 

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

Provincial results: Most provinces grow more optimistic

Confidence improved in seven out of 10 provinces this month. Prince Edward Island led the pack with an index level of 66.3, followed by Quebec (64.7), Nova Scotia (64.4) and Ontario (61.7). Alberta experienced the greatest confidence gain, rising 7.7 index points to 51.8. Manitoba (52.3) and New Brunswick (54.7) experienced modest confidence gains, but remained below the national average. British Columbia saw the greatest decrease, dropping 2.4 points to 53.1. Saskatchewan dropped 1.3 points to 49.1, the lowest spot in the country, followed by Newfoundland & Labrador (49.4).

Industry results: Information sector confidence drop continues

The information sector dropped 6.7 index points to 43.3, the lowest spot of any industry, followed by agriculture and natural resources (both 46.2). Businesses in professional services lost all the confidence they gained last month, dropping 8.3 index points to 60.5. The health services sector was the most optimistic this month at 64.7. Other sectors were clustered between 55 and 60 index points.

May 2019 findings are based on 745 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through May 17. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB

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