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Nova Scotia’s small business confidence idling

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Halifax, January 26, 2017– Optimism among Nova Scotia's small businesses has changed very little during the past four months. The Business Barometer Index starts the year at 65.2. Full-time hiring intentions are still negative with 16 per cent of respondents anticipating layoffs with eight per cent planning hiring. About one-third of business owners are reporting their firms are in good shape while eight per cent say their firms are in bad shape.

“Nova Scotia’s small businesses are looking at current conditions and adopting a wait and see approach,” said Jordi Morgan, CFIB’s vice-president, Atlantic. “Small business confidence has stalled over the last four months and as a result we are seeing some slack in the Nova Scotia economy. There are resources right now that could be used productively but until conditions improve we won’t see small business confidence kick into gear.”

Across Canada, although small business optimism has stepped back a little in January from December readings, it is still showing more buoyancy than what we had seen through most of 2015 and 2016. CFIB's Business Barometer index now stands at 60.1.

Regionally, however, conditions are remaining pretty consistent. Quebec business owners are the nation's most optimistic, with an index at 68.6. Owners in Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta and Saskatchewan are considerably less upbeat, but the gap relative to the rest of the country is narrowing. Index levels in the remaining provinces are reasonably positive and tightly bunched in the mid-60s range.

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.

January 2017 findings are based on 782 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through January 16. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.5 per cent 19 times in 20.

For more information, contact Jordi Morgan, Vice-president Atlanticat 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.