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Despite dip, Nova Scotia leading Canada in small business confidence

Halifax, 25 February 2016– Nova Scotia’s Business Barometer index has seen a second consecutive multi-point drop since December 2015, reaching 66.9 in February. Yet, even after this decrease, Nova Scotia businesses remain the most optimistic in the country. Full-time hiring intentions lost some ground and currently only 17 per cent of owners are planning to add staff versus only 4 per cent expecting to cut back.  Still, about 53 per cent of business owners say their businesses are in good shape— a very good indicator by national standards.

“Despite the slight reduction, Nova Scotia’s level of confidence from the small business sector has an overall upwards trend since the spring of 2015 and continues to be the highest in the country for a third consecutive month,” said Nick Langley, Director of Provincial Affairs, Nova Scotia for CFIB. “The low Canadian dollar, low oil prices, and the positive state of business are the major factors contributing to Nova Scotia’s strong small business confidence index.” Langley added. 

Canada’s small business confidence, which saw steady erosion through 2015, is virtually unchanged in February.  CFIB's Business Barometer® Index posted a barely perceptible 0.3-point monthly gain to 54.7, and it remains more than 12 points below its most recent October 2014 peak. 

Business sentiment in the oil-producing provinces continues to pull downward on the national average. Alberta's index dropped further into record low territory at only 26.7, while Saskatchewan's and Newfoundland a Labrador's also fell to 52.4 and 53.5 respectively.  Optimism in the remaining seven provinces, however, is noticeably better—led by Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and a resurgent business sector in Quebec—all with index levels above 65. Confidence in Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Manitoba is more muted—with index values clustered around the 61 mark. 

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.

February 2016 findings are based on 723 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through February 15. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

For more information, contact Nicholas Langley, Director of Provincial Affairs, at 902-420-1997 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.

February 25, 2016

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