Business Barometer®: Alberta small business outlook points to sluggish recovery

Calgary, August 27, 2020 – Alberta’s 12-month small business outlook increased 4 points to an index of 64.3 in August on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Business Barometer®. The three-month outlook remains significantly lower at 39.7 index points. An index level near 65 indicates the economy is growing at its potential.

“What ‘good performance’ means has changed for small business owners. Many may see just being here in 12 months as success,” said Ted Mallett, Chief Economist at CFIB. “Key performance indicators point to a sluggish but steady recovery, but capacity utilization remains low, particularly in the hospitality and arts and recreation sectors.”

On average, Alberta businesses are operating at 62.0 per cent capacity, an 8.8 per cent improvement over July, but well under what is considered necessary to be reliably profitable.

Only 21 per cent of Alberta business owners say their business is in a good state, compared to 46 per cent who say their business is in bad shape. Hiring plans remain quite weak in Alberta with only 15 per cent of business owners planning to hire full-time staff in the next three months, while 28 per cent foresee cuts. 

“All Albertans have a role to play to support our province’s job creators during this time, particularly to ensure their survival in the short-term,” said Keyli Kosiorek, CFIB’s Alberta policy analyst. “As the summer wraps up, we encourage everyone to shop local whenever possible and think #SmallBusinessEveryDay throughout the fall and winter months.”

Provincial results: Quebec and Prince Edward Island remain least optimistic

Nova Scotia was the most upbeat province at 68.0 index points, followed by Alberta (64.3), Ontario (63.1) and Saskatchewan (62.9). Quebec (43.9), Prince Edward Island (47.9) and New Brunswick (56.5) were the most downcast provinces. Newfoundland and Labrador (60.6), Manitoba (59.3) and British Columbia (58.2) stuck close to the national average.

Industry results: Natural resources and agriculture maintain lowest placement

Natural resources (46.0) and agriculture (52.6) remained the least optimistic industries, followed by personal services (53.2). On the other side of the spectrum, wholesale (64.3) and transportation (62.7) businesses posted the highest results

August 2020 findings are based on 687 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received from August 4 to 17. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.7 per cent 19 times in 20.
For media enquiries about the Alberta results, please contact Keyli Kosiorek, CFIB’s Alberta policy analyst at or 403-874-2618. For national results, please contact Ted Mallett, Chief Economist, or 647-464-2814

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every industry and region, including 10,000 in Alberta. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at