Business Barometer®: Small business confidence suffers a major downturn in November

November 28, 2019 – Small business confidence dropped 3.7 index points to 56.1, with the Prairies seeing the biggest declines, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s latest Business Barometer®.

“On the whole, business owners are not feeling optimistic about their prospects for the next 12 months, especially in the Prairies,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “The results we’re seeing harken back to the resource crunch of 2016. We can expect weaker hiring intentions in the short-term as a result.”

Overall, 41 per cent of owners say that their business is in a good state, but the number of owners who say it is in bad shape jumped to 18 per cent. Hiring plans are typically weak this time of the year, but this month they fell to a net negative, with 15 per cent of owners planning to add full-time staff in the next three months compared to 17 per cent who plan to cut back.

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

Provincial results: Major confidence loss in the Prairies

Saskatchewan lost 5.9 index points and fell to 44.1, the weakest optimism level in the country. Alberta posted the biggest loss, dropping 8.9 index points to 44.7. British Columbia (52.3) and Newfoundland and Labrador (54.8) posted optimism levels below the national average. Ontario (58.3), Manitoba (59.8) and Nova Scotia (62.7) also experienced confidence losses, but maintained results above the national average. Businesses in Prince Edward Island (75.0), New Brunswick (70.2) and Quebec (67.4) were upbeat—the three provinces were the only ones to gain confidence over last month.

Industry results: Malaise felt by most sectors 

Transportation (49.2), agriculture (51.1) and wholesale (51.3) were the least confident sectors this month. The natural resources sector also took a downturn, dropping 8.2 index points to 52.7. The health services sector dropped 5.9 index points but maintained the highest confidence level at 68.5, followed by professional services (66.1) and financial services (63.6). Professional services, retail (58.5) and hospitality (56.3) were the only sectors to experience confidence gains this month.

Read the November Business Barometer®

November 2019 findings are based on 822 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received November 4 through the 18th. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.4 per cent 19 times in 20.

The December 2019 Business Barometer® will be released on Friday, December 27, 2019.

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