Business Barometer®: Manitoba Small Business Optimism sees minor dip in May

Winnipeg, May 31, 2018 – Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among Manitoba’s small business owners dipped again in May to an index of 59.3, down from 59.9 in April, and is also now below the national average index of 62.5. 

“Manitoba's small business optimism was nearly unchanged in May with a minor decline to an index of 59.3, but is seven points below its index of 66.4 in May, 2017,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. “Short-term hiring plans saw no improvements with 16 per cent of respondents planning to hire staff, while 12 per cent are planning layoffs.” 

“We are concerned that the state-of-business health dropped significantly this month,” added Alward. “Now only 32 per cent of Manitoba small business owners say their businesses are in good shape; well down from 53 per cent at the beginning of the year. Ten per cent report that their firms are in poor shape.” 

Nationally, small business confidence is up this month after four consecutive months of lagging results at the beginning of the year. The index has risen to 62.5 in May, nearly six points over April’s results.

“The current confidence level isn’t back up to the last peak we observed in May 2017, but there is a noticeable improvement, especially in Ontario and PEI. The improved outlook could be a reflection of better weather in May over April, but we are always happy to see confidence go up, because it’s a sign of better business and economic conditions,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s Chief Economist. “However, sentiment in Saskatchewan, Newfoundland & Labrador and Alberta, which were hit hard by the resource price crunch of 2015-2016, continues to lag.”

Provincial results: PEI and Ontario biggest confidence winners

Small business owners in PEI and Quebec reported the highest rates of optimism at 70.5 and 68.1, with PEI gaining five index points over last month. Ontario saw the biggest spike in confidence, up eight points to 64.7. The outlook in Saskatchewan, Newfoundland & Labrador and Alberta remains weak, with all three provinces continuing to experience drops in confidence this month.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for May:

  • 32% of businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (40% nationally); 10% say it is bad (9% nationally);
  • 16% plan to increase employment in the next 3-4 months (20% nationally) and 12% of Manitoba businesses plan to decrease full-time employment (11% nationally);
  • Shortage of skilled labour is the main operating challenge (33%), followed by insufficient domestic demand (31%), and management skills, time constraints (30%);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (66%), wage costs (57%), insurance costs (41%), and fuel, energy costs (40%).

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. May 2018 findings are based on 618 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through May 18. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.9 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 (647) 464-2814 or email You may also follow Ted on Twitter @cfibeconomics. 

Business Barometer® is a monthly publication of the CFIB and is a registered trademark. 

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. Learn more at