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Cooler optimism, yet strong hiring plans for small business

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Charlottetown, 30 June 2016—Business optimism in Prince Edward Island has cooled off somewhat in June. The Island's Business Barometer Index dropped seven points to 68.0, the second highest level of optimism across the country. Short term hiring plans are still strong with 33 per cent of firms looking to hire full time over the next three months, while only 4 per cent looking to downsize. The main limitation on sales growth or production is insufficient domestic demand as indicated by almost one-in-two business owners (46 per cent). 

“While PEI’s optimism has shown a slight drop it is still trending well above the provincial and national average,” said Jordi Morgan, CFIB’s Vice-President, Atlantic Canada.  “Many island businesses are looking to bring on full-time staff in the next three months which should bolster domestic demand going forward.”    

Canada’s small businesses grew a little more confident in June. CFIB's Business Barometer® Index rose almost two points to hit 60.0. This level is still low by historical standards, but it is the highest reading in just over a year. 

Overall, business owners posted improvements in 7 of 10 provinces. Leading the pack with an index score of 69.3 are those in British Columbia, followed closely by the 68.0 from Prince Edward Island businesses. Provinces at the other end of spectrum—Alberta (42.5), Newfoundland and Labrador (45.8) and Saskatchewan (54.8)—all registered much-welcome improvements this month. Optimism leapt in New Brunswick (64.9) and there were modest improvements in Quebec (61.6) and Manitoba (57.8). Declines in sentiment in Ontario and Nova Scotia (both at 61.5) helped restrain the national average. 

Measured on a scale between 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. An index level of between 65 and 70 means the economy is growing at its potential. 

June 2016 findings are based on 743 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through June 20. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20. 

For more information, contact Jordi Morgan, Vice President, Atlantic Canada at 902-223-3441 or Ted Mallett, Chief Economist and Vice-president at 416-222-8022.

Business Barometer is a monthly publication of the CFIB and is a registered trademark.