Toronto, September 28, 2017 – Small business optimism in Canada has dropped for the fourth month in a row, according to the latest Business Barometer® survey, released today by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
The monthly index—based on a national survey which asks business owners how they expect their business to perform moving forward—fell three points to 56.9 (out of 100) in September, the lowest mark in 18 months.
“Since reaching a year-high peak in May, the index has plummeted by nine points. What is most striking this month, however, is that the decline is widespread: optimism dropped in all regions of the country and in 11 of 13 industry sectors,” said Ted Mallett, Chief Economist at CFIB.
“Nationally, still about 40 percent of those surveyed report their businesses are in 'good' shape. But hiring plans remain weak and business owners are expressing concern about taxes and regulations as well as the availability of skilled labour—worries likely driven by recent federal and provincial policy.”
Despite a modest dip of 0.6 points, Quebec remains the most optimistic province with a relatively healthy index of 70.9. Business owners in the Maritimes are also more optimistic than the national average, but indexes now in the low-60s are a significant regression from August’s levels.
Meanwhile, the mood is more subdued in the rest of the country: confidence is lowest in Saskatchewan (50.9), Newfoundland and Labrador (52.0) and Ontario (55.0), with Manitoba (57.3) and Alberta (57.7) not faring much better.
Notably, British Columbia’s confidence index dropped below the 60 mark for the first time since 2012.
The survey report also breaks down responses into industry groupings. The hospitality industry saw the biggest drop in September—a dip of 6.5 points. Retail (58.0) and natural resources firms (55.2) are the only sectors to show an increase in confidence over August.
September 2017 findings are based on 810 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through September 18. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.4 percent, 19 times in 20.
Note: On a scale between 0 and 100, an index above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. One normally sees an index level of between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential.
Read the Business Barometer®
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CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region.