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Manitoba small biz optimism holds steady in January

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Winnipeg, January 26, 2017 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest Business Barometer® index, which shows that small business optimism in Manitoba held steady in January at an index of 67.1, up 0.4 points from 66.7 in December. This index level is above the national index of 60.1.

“It’s encouraging to see Manitoba small business optimism increase over the past three months, and now sits well above the national index,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. “However, short-term hiring plans remain weak with 12 per cent looking to layoff and nine per cent looking to hire.”

Nationally, although small business optimism has stepped back a little in January from December readings, it is still showing more buoyancy than what we had seen though most of 2015 and 2016. CFIB's Business Barometer index now stands at 60.1.

“It’s a bit of a mixed bag this month, but generally the numbers are holding steady,” said Ted Mallett, Chief Economist at CFIB. “We’re seeing some encouraging signs coming out of the resource-rich provinces, though we are keeping an eye on some other major indicators, like weaker-than-normal employment and capital spending plans.”

Regionally, however, conditions are remaining pretty consistent. Quebec business owners are the nation’s most optimistic, with an index at 68.6. Owners in Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta and Saskatchewan are considerably less upbeat, but the gap relative to the rest of the country is narrowing. Index levels in the remaining provinces are reasonably positive and tightly bunched in the mid-60s range. Results and the full report are available at: www.cfib-fcei.ca/english/barometer.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for January:

  • 37% of small businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (39% nationally); 7% say it is bad (12% nationally).
  • 9% of Manitoba small businesses plan to increase full-time employment in the next 3-4 months (15% nationally), and 12% plan to decrease employment (13% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (40%), followed by management skills/time constraints (32%), and shortage of skilled labour (25%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax/regulatory costs (64%), insurance costs (45%), and wage costs (43%).

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. January 2017 findings are based on 782 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through January 16. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.5 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.