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Manitoba small biz optimism holds steady in January

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According to the latest monthly Business Barometer®, optimism among small business owners 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.  

Small business confidence is above the five year average for Manitoba (61.2) and two points above the range of index levels (65-70) that is normally associated with an economy that is growing at its potential.

However, short-term hiring plans remain weak with 9 per cent of business owners looking to hire full-time staff and 12 per cent looking to reduce staff. More than one-third (37%) of business owners say their businesses are in good shape— a lower proportion than the national results.

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.

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%).