CFIB News Release: Manitoba small business optimism stalls in July; hiring & business health indicators remain low

Business Barometer®

Winnipeg, July 30, 2020 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals Manitoba small business owners’ optimism stalled in July at an index of 55.5, after several improvements since a low of 37.5 in March. The index rose slightly from the end of June (55.3) and is now more than five points below the national average index of 61.3.
“While Manitoba’s small business outlook for the next 12 months remains relatively unchanged in July, many of the province’s job creators are still struggling to survive,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s director, prairie region. “Other key indicators remain weak including short-term hiring trends, with 28 per cent of small businesses planning to decrease full-time employment in the next 3 months, while only 16 per cent are planning to hire.”
National small business outlook for the next 12 months is on the mend, but other measures of business health remain far below historic norms. Canada’s index of small business optimism reached 61.3 points in July.
“While it appears small business owners are feeling more confident about where they’ll be in a year, the unique nature of this economic shock is complicating the way we look at traditional indicators,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist. “It’s likely that many business owners have much lower expectations of what good performance means 12 months out. Shorter-term outlooks are still very weak. Additionally, we might be seeing some survivor bias at play— a notable number of weaker businesses polled in the spring are no longer responding to the survey, suggesting many may have failed in June and July.”
Provincial results: Ontario and Nova Scotia businesses most upbeat

Ontario posted the highest optimism level at 66.0, followed by Nova Scotia (62.4), Saskatchewan (58.3) and Alberta (58.1). Quebec (39.6), Prince Edward Island (41.7) and New Brunswick (50.5) posted the lowest results. British Columbia (55.0), Manitoba (55.5) and Newfoundland and Labrador (56.1) were middle of the pack this month.
Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for July:

  • 28% of businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (22% nationally); 30% say it is bad (37% nationally);

  • 16% plan to increase employment in the next 3 months (14% nationally) and 28% of Manitoba businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (30% nationally);

  • Manitoba businesses’ average capacity utilization is at 68.8% of full capacity (up 5.1% from the end of June)

Read the July 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 perform. One normally sees an index level of between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. The July findings are based on 677 responses from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received from July 2 to 20. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.8 per cent 19 times in 20.
To arrange an interview with Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s director, prairie region on the provincial results, please call 431-998-4498 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. Learn more at