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Sask small biz optimism takes nosedive in May; now 17 points below national index

According to the latest monthly Business Barometer®, optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan dropped six points to 49.1 in May, from 55.1 in AprilThis is now 17 points below the national average index of 66.0 and also continues to trail Alberta’s index of 61.9.

Saskatchewan small business optimism took a nosedive in May and fell for the third consecutive month. It is also concerning to see employers’ layoff plans remain at a record high – with 21 per cent of business owners looking to decrease full-time employment over the next three months, but only 14 per cent are looking to hire.

It is evident that entrepreneurs are continuing to feel the negative impact of the $908 million in tax hikes announced in the 2017 provincial budget, and recent municipal property tax increases introduced in many municipalities across the province. This is on top of an Employment Insurance tax hike for all Canadians and their employers, followed by five years of Canadian Pension Plan premium increases. And if the federal government gets its way, starting next year, Saskatchewan residents and entrepreneurs will face five years of escalating carbon taxes.

Canada's small business optimism increased by another point and a half in May, bringing the CFIB’s monthly Business Barometer® Index to the 66.0 mark, the best level in two and a half years.

Nationally, the Index has now recovered its losses from the resource price crunch of late 2014. However, improvement was narrowly based regionally, largely coming from the West, and seasonal factors likely contributed to improvements in the Atlantic provinces.

British Columbia (69.4) saw another increase in May, climbing to top spot in the country, while strong improvements in Alberta (61.9) and Manitoba (66.4) helped bolster the national confidence level. There was some pick-up in the Atlantic region, with Newfoundland & Labrador (45.3) and Prince Edward Island (67.9) making gains, though Nova Scotia (64.4) and New Brunswick (60.2) saw a slight fall back. Ontario (68.2) and Quebec (65.0) saw small slips, while Saskatchewan (49.1) saw a sharp decline.

Results and the full report are available at:

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for May:

  • 29% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (43% nationally); 16% say it is bad (11% nationally).
  • 21% plan to decrease employment in the next 3-4 months (11% nationally) and 14% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to increase full-time employment (21% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (50%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (28%), and management skills, time constraints (23%)
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (54%), wage costs (45%) and insurance costs (42%).

May 28, 2017

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