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Business Barometer®: Sask small business optimism improves in January; but still lags national average

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  • Business Barometer®: Sask small business optimism improves in January; but still lags national average

Regina, January 25, 2018 - Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan improved in January to an index of 53.6, up from in 50.9 in December, but is still well below the national average index of 62.7. 

“While Saskatchewan's small businesses started 2018 on a more optimistic note, the index is still the third lowest in the country,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President, Prairie & Agri-business. “It is also concerning to see short-term hiring plans remain negative with only six per cent of owners looking to hire (lowest in Canada) and 21 per cent planning to reduce staff in the next 3-4 months. The top cost pressures for Saskatchewan entrepreneurs continue to be tax and regulatory costs, cited by 68 per cent of respondents, which hit another record high in January.”

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 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.”
Business owners in Quebec remained the country’s most optimistic with a five-point gain to reach 71.3, just a shade below the province’s all-time high. New Brunswick saw the biggest jump, this month, with a 6.1 point increase to 56.9, while Prince Edward Island dropped four points to 52.4.

 Confidence IndexChange from December
Quebec71.3+5.0
British Columbia66.7+2.4
Nova Scotia63.9+3.1
Manitoba61.6+4.2
Alberta59.4-0.7
Ontario58.7+1.2
New Brunswick56.9+6.1
Saskatchewan53.6+2.7
Prince Edward Island52.4-4.1
Newfoundland & Labrador51.8+3.0

Results and the full report are available at: www.cfib-fcei.ca/english/barometer 

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for January:

  • 25% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (44% nationally); 19% say it is bad (10% nationally). 
  • 21% plan to decrease employment in the next 3-4 months (16% nationally) and only 6% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to increase full-time employment (19% nationally). 
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (49%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (29%), and management skills, time constraints (23%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (68%), insurance costs (50%) and wage costs (48%).

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. 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 Marilyn Braun-Pollon, Vice-President Prairie & Agri-business on the provincial results please call (306) 757-0000, 1-888-234-2232 or email [email protected]. You may follow CFIB Saskatchewan on Twitter @cfibsk. 

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 (5,250 in Saskatchewan) across every sector and region.