Business Barometer®: Small business optimism slips in January

Alberta entrepreneurs started the New Year facing a growing list of challenges

CALGARY, January 25 2018 – The latest monthly Business Barometer survey results from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) reveal Alberta’s small business optimism decreased 0.7 points in January to 59.4. 

“Small business confidence in Alberta has come a long way from the lowest lows ever recorded a few years ago but we still have a ways to go before we reach the threshold that represents a strong, growing economy,” said Amber Ruddy, Director of Provincial Affairs for Alberta. “More can be done to better support Alberta’s small business community, such as reducing red tape and it is our hope to see that become a priority this year.”

For the first time in three months, small business optimism in Alberta has decreased. The drop in confidence has lowered the province’s national rank from fourth to fifth place. Alberta continues to lag behind the national index by 3.3 points (62.7).

Hiring intentions by Alberta’s entrepreneurs are slightly down for January compared to the previous month. Thirteen per cent of small business owners plan to increase full-time staff in the next three months, down one point from December. In contrast, eighteen per cent are looking to cut back, representing no change from the month before.

Twenty-five per cent of entrepreneurs believe the general state of health of their business is good, representing a two point loss from December. This compares to nineteen per cent of Alberta business owners who describe their business’ health as poor, down one point from the previous month. 

The national Business Barometer index in January was 62.7, up 3.0 points from December. The other provincial numbers were: Quebec (71.3), British Columbia (66.7), Nova Scotia (63.9), Manitoba (61.6), Ontario (58.7), New Brunswick (56.9), Saskatchewan (53.6), PEI (52.3), and Newfoundland (51.8).  

Measured on a scale between 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. An index level of between 65 and 75 means the economy is growing at its potential. 

The January 2018 findings are based on 840 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflects responses received through to January 20. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.4 per cent 19 times in 20. 

To speak with Amber Ruddy, Alberta Director, please contact or 403-444-9290.  To arrange an interview with Ted Mallett, Chief Economist, about the national results, please contact Andy Radia at 647-464-2814 or

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.