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Manitoba small business optimism falls again in October

Winnipeg, October 26, 2017 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest Business Barometer®, which reveals small business optimism in Manitoba dropped 1.8 points in October to an index of 55.5, compared to 57.3 in September.

“For the third consecutive month, Manitoba small business optimism has fallen and now sits slightly below the national average of 57.2,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. “Short-term hiring plans also remain weak, with more employers looking to reduce staff (16%) than to hire staff (13%) over the next three months.”

Nationally, after four months of sharp decline, small business confidence in Canada steadied in October. CFIB's monthly Business Barometer® Index registered a weak 57.2 this month, but it is 0.3 points higher than September’s dismal showing. As recently as last May, by comparison, the index had been at a cyclical high of 66.0.

“Concerns about wage costs, taxes and regulations continue to be top of mind when business owners are asked about their costs and constraints of doing business,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB Chief Economist. “The end result remains a pretty sour picture across the country, with most provincial indexes clustered around the 55 mark.”

Results are mixed across the regions. Despite losing ground, Quebec remains the most optimistic place for business owners, with an index of 67.6. Nova Scotia businesses are a step back in second spot at 62.5, while improving sentiment in British Columbia brought its index up to 61.9. Lowest levels of optimism are seen in Newfoundland & Labrador (48.3) and Saskatchewan (52.7) — results typical of the past 18 months in both provinces. For the rest of the country, a generally sour mood has kept index values clustered around the 55 mark. Business Barometer

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for October:

  • 40% of small businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (41% nationally); 7% say it is bad (11% nationally).
  • 13% of Manitoba small businesses plan to increase full-time employment in the next 3-4 months (16% nationally), and 16% plan to decrease employment (17% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (34%), followed by management skills/time constraints (29%), and shortage of skilled labour (27%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax/regulatory costs (66%), wage costs (54%), and fuel, energy costs (39%).


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. October 2017 findings are based on 727 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through October 16. 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.

October 26, 2017

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