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Nova Scotia small business confidence slipping

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Halifax, 26 May 2016–Nova Scotia’s small business optimism saw a little backslide in May to reach 63.9. While the current level of optimism is still above the national average and very positive for the province, it has been slowly eroding since the beginning of 2016. Full-time hiring intentions are also barely positive with 17 per cent of owners planning to add staff versus only 14 per cent expecting to reduce staffing. The share of business owners saying their firms are in good shape has seen a large drop from last month's 50 per cent to the current 41 per cent.   

“Nova Scotia’s level of confidence from the small business sector has remained strong when compared to the national average because of the low Canadian dollar and strong exports.” said Nick Langley, Director of Provincial Affairs, Nova Scotia for CFIB. “However, business health and hiring intentions have declined and tax and regulatory costs continue to be the largest cost constraint for small business owners.” Langley added.

Canadian small business sentiment eased downward in May, giving back some of the improvement noted the month previously. CFIB's Business Barometer® Index dropped by one point to 58.2 in May from April's 59.2, but it is still much improved from levels in the first three months of 2016. 

Once again, PEI business owners are the most upbeat in the country, with an index value now at a post-recession high of 75.0. The outlooks of owners in British Columbia (67.1) and Ontario (65.8) are also the most positive since mid- to early 2015. Modest rebounds were also seen in Alberta (34.6) and Saskatchewan (51.5), though sentiment there remains well below national averages. Optimism in Manitoba (57.7) also improved this month, though just back to Canada-wide levels.

Business owners east of the Ottawa River, however, were generally a little less upbeat in May. Those in Nova Scotia (63.9) and Quebec (60.6) still outpoint the Canadian average, while those in Newfoundland and Labrador (44.6) and New Brunswick (57.0) moved a little further away on the down side.

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. 

May 2016 findings are based on 684 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through May 16. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.7 per cent 19 times in 20.

For more information, contact Nicholas Langley, Director of Provincial Affairs, at 902-420-1997 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.