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Business Barometer®: Alberta small business confidence rebounds four points

68% of AB entrepreneurs feel pinch of fuel/energy costs; highest level in 4.5 years

Calgary, January 26, 2017 – Alberta small business confidence rose four points in January to 47.2 according to the monthly Business Barometer® index published by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).  The indicator made modest gains in recent months and is hovering around 2015 levels but still well below the national average (60.1).

The price of fuel and energy is a major cost constraint for 68 per cent of Alberta businesses, soaring 13 points over December and the highest it’s been in four and a half years.  Seventy-seven per cent of entrepreneurs list tax and regulatory costs as a major cost constraint.  This indicator is largely unchanged from last month.

“It’s clear the price of fuel and energy is a rising concern for many business owners in this economy.  Alberta is only weeks into a carbon tax and small business owners are already feeling the heat,” said Amber Ruddy, Director of Provincial Affairs for Alberta.

Short-term employment plans are still negative but improving with 30 per cent of Alberta businesses saying they may have to cut back on employees, down seven points from December, while 11 per cent are looking to hire, compared to only seven per cent the month before.

The general state of business remained negative.  Twenty per cent of business owners say the general state of business health is good, while 32 per cent state they are in bad shape.  Insufficient demand is a limitation for 68 per cent of businesses.

“Three consecutive months of modest gains in small business optimism is welcome news, but still a third of Alberta entrepreneurs say their businesses are in bad shape.  Small businesses are looking for the Finance Minister to set the right tone with a business-friendly spring budget.  Hopefully he is receiving enough feedback to bring forward policies that improve the business climate,” concluded Ruddy.

The national Business Barometer index sits at 60.1.  The other provincial numbers were: Quebec (68.6), Manitoba (67.1), British Columbia (65.2), Nova Scotia (65.2), PEI (64.6), New Brunswick (63.5), Ontario (63.4), Saskatchewan (55.0) and Newfoundland & Labrador (46.0).

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 75 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.

Read the Business Barometer®.

To speak with Amber Ruddy, Alberta Director, please contact [email protected] or 403-444-9290.  To arrange an interview with Ted Mallett, Chief Economist, about the national results, please contact Kiara Morrissey at 416-222-8022, 647-464-2814 or [email protected].

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region, including 10,000 in Alberta.          

January 26, 2017

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