Business Barometer®: Manitoba small business optimism improves in August

Winnipeg, August 30, 2018 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among Manitoba’s small business owners increased in August to an index of 62.4, up from 60.1 in July, and remains slightly above the national average index of 61.6. 

“While Manitoba's small business optimism improved in August, short-term hiring plans remain weak with equal shares planning to hire or reduce personnel (13%),” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. “Fuel and energy costs continue to climb as a major cost constraint, which is not surprising given the recent increases to Manitoba Hydro rates and the concerns about Manitoba’s carbon tax, planned for later this year.”  

Nationally, after a major drop amid trade tensions in July, small business confidence rebounded to 61.6 this month, gaining 4.8 index points over last month.

“It seems businesses across most of the country are breathing a bit easier this month,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice president and chief economist. “Even markets that have been lagging since the resource price crunch of 2015 and 2016, like Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador, are feeling more optimistic.” 

Provincial results: Alberta and BC least optimistic provinces

British Columbia (55.9) and Alberta (53.9) were the only provinces to report drops in confidence, making them the least optimistic regions this month. Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador experienced the greatest confidence gains this month to 57.9 and 56.5 respectively. Prince Edward Island (74.0) and Quebec (71.8) remained the most confident provinces in the country. Nova Scotia (66.9) and Manitoba (62.4) both reported confidence levels above the national average. New Brunswick (58.0) and Ontario (57.6) saw gains, but trailed the national index level. 

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer® for August:

  • 44% of businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (44% nationally); 10% say it is bad (10% nationally);
  • 13% plan to increase employment in the next 3-4 months (17% nationally) and 13% of Manitoba businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (12% nationally);
  • Shortage of skilled labour is the main operating challenge (34%), followed by insufficient domestic demand shortage of skilled labour (33%) and management skills, time constraints (30%);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (65%), wage costs (60%), fuel, energy costs (48%) and insurance costs (42%). 

Read the August Business Barometer®

Measured on a scale of 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. August 2018 findings are based on 768 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through August 20. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.5 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 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 You may also follow Ted on Twitter @cfibeconomics. 

About CFIB
CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (4,800 in Manitoba) across every sector and region.