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Manitoba small biz optimism decreases slightly in March, but remains strong

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Winnipeg, March 30, 2017 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest Business Barometer® index, which shows that small business optimism in Manitoba decreased in March to an index of 64.5, compared to 66.9 in February. This index level is again above the national index of 62.9.

“While Manitoba small business optimism fell slightly in March, its remains strong and is almost 10 points ahead of its index from March 2016,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. “Entrepreneurs will be looking to the provincial budget next month for clear signs that the government is serious about controlling operating spending, developing a plan to balance the budget, and creating a more competitive tax environment.”

Nationally, Canada's small business optimism remained steady in March, holding on to the gains it had posted a month earlier, according to Business Barometer. The index remains at 62.9 points—the same as in February and 2.7 points above January’s reading. 

“Although its trend is on the upswing, confidence still has a way to go before reaching historical norms,” said Ted Mallett, Chief Economist at CFIB. “Ideally, we’d like to see a reading get up to between 65 and 70 points, levels we haven’t seen since 2014. Still, overall trends across most of the country indicate a consistent but gradual move in the right direction.”

The national index has been supported by steadily improving perspectives in Alberta (55.5) as well as modest gains to indexes in Ontario (65.6), British Columbia (64.9) and Nova Scotia (65.9). Small business optimism in Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick is in similar territory (65.7, 64.5 and 63.8 respectively) but saw slight declines from their February levels. After three-consecutive monthly increases, Saskatchewan’s index dropped slightly to 56.3, while bigger declines were seen in Prince Edward Island (58.6) and Newfoundland and Labrador (42.2). Results and the full report are available at: www.cfib-fcei.ca/english/barometer.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for March:

  • 41% of small businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (42% nationally); 10% say it is bad (13% nationally).
  • 10% of Manitoba small businesses plan to increase full-time employment in the next 3-4 months (21% nationally), and 6% plan to decrease employment (11% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (42%), followed by management skills/time constraints (32%), and shortage of skilled labour (25%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax/regulatory costs (63%), wage costs (52%), insurance costs (42%), and fuel, energy costs (42%).

Measured on a scale of 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their businesses’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. According to past results, index levels normally range between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. March 2017 findings are based on 730 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through March 20. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with Jonathan Alward, Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba on the provincial results, please call 1 888-234-2232, 204-982-0817 or email [email protected]. You can also follow CFIB Manitoba on Twitter @cfibMB.

To arrange an interview with Ted Mallett, Vice-President & Chief Economist on the national results please call (416) 222-8022 or email [email protected]. You may also follow Ted on Twitter @cfibeconomics.

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

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members (4,800 in Manitoba) across every sector and region.