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Manitoba small biz optimism leads the country in February

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Winnipeg, February 23, 2017 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest Business Barometer® index, which shows that small business optimism in Manitoba remained very strong in February at an index of 66.9, compared to 67.1 in January. This index level is again above the national index of 62.9, and now ranks as the highest in the country. 

“It’s great to see that Manitoba small business owners are now the most optimistic in the country,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. “It seems that the business-friendly policies recently introduced by the provincial government are being noticed by Manitoba’s entrepreneurs. However, with short-term hiring plans remaining weak, with equal shares of business owners looking to hire as to lay off (nine per cent), it will be important for the upcoming provincial budget to continue addressing Manitoba’s outstanding fiscal and competitive challenges.”

Nationally, Canada's small businesses are quite a bit more upbeat in February. CFIB's monthly Business Barometer index rose 2.7 points to 62.9 this month--its best reading since January 2015.

“The destabilizing effects of the oil price crunch on business confidence now appear mostly behind us,” said Ted Mallett, Chief Economist at CFIB. “This new, more optimistic outlook in the resource sector is reflecting a more balanced effect across the country, though this has yet to translate into a higher expectation of new full-time positions becoming available in the coming months.”  

Although not quite back to normal mid-cycle levels, the index has been helped by improving perspectives in previously hard-hit Alberta (49.8) and Saskatchewan (57.7), which continue to close the gap with the rest of the country. Businesses are most upbeat in Manitoba and Quebec, with index levels at 66.9 and 66.6 respectively, however, optimism in the Maritimes, Ontario and BC are nearly as high--which suggests overall robustness returning to the economy. Businesses in Newfoundland & Labrador, however, remain pessimistic. Results and the full report are available at: Business Barometer.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for February:

  • 38% of small businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (40% nationally); 11% say it is bad (17% nationally).
  • 9% of Manitoba small businesses plan to increase full-time employment in the next 3-4 months (18% nationally), and 9% plan to decrease employment (12% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (37%), followed by management skills/time constraints (34%), and shortage of skilled labour (26%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax/regulatory costs (65%), wage costs (48%), insurance costs (46%), and fuel, energy costs (46%).

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. February 2017 findings are based on 943 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through February 12. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.2 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.