Business Barometer®: Small business confidence continues to yo-yo, drops below 60

September 26, 2019 – Small business confidence continued its yo-yo pattern of the past year, dropping 1.3 index points to 59.3 on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (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.”

Overall, 42 per cent of owners say that their business is in a good state, while 13 per cent say it is in a bad state. Hiring plans continue to be weak, with only 16 per cent of owners planning to add on full-time staff in the next three months, while 15 per cent plan to cut back.

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

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.

Industry results: Transportation drops to lowest industry spot

The transportation industry fell 5.3 index points to 50.0, replacing agriculture (51.2) as the least optimistic sector. Retail (55.3) and construction (55.9) also lagged behind the national average. Professional services (72.3) and health services (68.9) posted major gains and outpaced all other sectors in optimism levels, followed by information (66.0). Other sectors tended to be clustered within a few points of the national average.

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.

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