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Nova Scotia records highest ranking since 2010

Halifax, 31 December 2015– Nova Scotia’s Business Barometer index gained more than three full points to reach 71.0 – making it the most optimistic province currently. The current level is a close-second to the peak of 72.4 recorded in February 2010. Full time hiring intentions remained constant in December with 25 per cent planning to add staff versus 9 per cent expecting to cut back on personnel. About 49 per cent of business owners say their businesses are in good shape - a slight improvement since last month’s reading. However, there is a high concern over tax and red tape – 67 per cent of respondents citing that as the major constraint on their business operations.

“According to our Monthly Business Barometer®, Nova Scotia’s level of confidence from the small business sector continues to be strong as it has for most of the year and is now the highest in the country,” said Nick Langley, Director of Provincial Affairs, Nova Scotia for CFIB. “The low Canadian dollar, low oil prices, positive hiring intentions, and the positive state of business are the major factors contributing to Nova Scotia’s strong small business confidence index.” Langley added. 

For national small business optimism, December has turned out to be the weakest month of the weakest year since the 2008-09 financial crisis. The final Business Barometer® Index of 2015 registered only 55.7, a decline of three points from November's tepid 58.7 and well under readings from the first half of the year when GDP growth was negative.  

This month's decline was driven by weaker sentiment in Ontario (-2.6pts to 59.9) and Alberta (-4.3pts to 33.1), with both index levels now at or near their respective 2015 lows. Smaller declines were noted in Manitoba (to 66.4), British Columbia (to 65.9) and Prince Edward Island (to 61.1), but their index levels each remain well above the national average. In the remainder of the country we saw decent-sized improvements in sentiment, notably in Nova Scotia (to a nation-leading 71.0) and Newfoundland and Labrador (to 64.8). Multi-point gains were also notable in New Brunswick (to 61.8), Quebec (to 59.6) and Saskatchewan (to 56.3). 

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.

December 2015 findings are based on 759 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through December 14. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

For more information, contact Nicholas Langley, Director of Provincial Affairs, at 902-401-2615 or Ted Mallett, Chief Economist and Vice-president at 416-222-8022.

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

January 5, 2016

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