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NL business confidence weak, but stable, in first quarter 2018

St. John’s, 26 April 2018 – Newfoundland & Labrador's small businesses are seeing a weak outlook in April. The Business Barometer Index is at 50.8, the lowest in the country. Full-time short-term staffing intentions haven't seen much improvement. About 19 per cent of employers plan on reducing full-time staffing levels, while 11 per cent expect to increase them. About four-in-ten business owners say their firms are in good shape while 10 per cent see their firms in a poor state. 
Across Canada, optimism fell all during the first quarter with CFIB’s Business BarometerÒ index reaching 56.6. This is the lowest reading since early 2016. The only time the index had been lower in the past 10 years was during the 2015-16 energy price crunch and the 2008-09 financial crisis. 

The downshift in mood among business owners is widespread. Optimism remains highest in Quebec and Nova Scotia, keeping with previous patterns, but their index levels have eased back to 68.7 and 67.9 respectively. British Columbia’s index (61.4) dropped below that of PEI (65.3), while New Brunswick (60.9) and Manitoba (59.9) had mid-level results. Sentiment in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan remains weak, with index levels in the mid-50s and Newfoundland & Labrador continues to trail all other provinces with a reading of 50.8. 

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 70 means the economy is growing at its potential.

April 2018 findings are based on 740 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through April 16. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

For more information, contact Vaughn Hammond, Director of Provincial Affairs, at 709-753-7745.

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

April 26, 2018

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