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Sask small business optimism holds steady in September

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Regina, September 27, 2018 - Today, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer®, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan held steady in September with an index of 58.5, up slightly from 57.9 in August, but remains slightly below the national average index of 61.4.

“Optimism among Saskatchewan's small businesses remained moderately high in September (58.5), and is well above the levels from this time last year (50.9). The general state of business has also improved slightly with 41 per cent of respondents saying their businesses are in good shape, versus 14 per cent who see their firms in bad shape,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President, Prairie & Agri-business. “However, employment plans haven't seen much movement with roughly equal shares of business owners looking to add (13%) as to cut (15%) full-time staffing numbers.”

Nationally, small business confidence held steady in September with an index of 61.4, almost identical to the 61.6 posted in August. Comparisons with pre-2014 index levels show there is still considerable room for improvement.

“Optimism in Quebec and Prince Edward Island is still sky-high, but sentiment in the rest of the country remains more muted,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s Vice-President and Chief Economist. “Small business owners are responding to the political and economic uncertainty they’re seeing nationally and internationally.”

Provincial results: Quebec takes lead as most optimistic province; Alberta remains least optimistic

Quebec overtook PEI as the most confident province in the country, reporting a level of 74.5, a 2.7 point increase. PEI’s optimism remained level at 74.1. Ontario experienced the greatest increase in optimism, gaining 3.6 points to 61.2. Alberta experienced a moderate confidence gain, but remained the least optimistic province at 54.8, followed by BC (55.9) and Newfoundland & Labrador (56.3). Nova Scotia experienced the greatest confidence drop this month (63.1), but maintained a level above the national average, while Manitoba’s confidence loss (61.1) brought it just below the average. Saskatchewan (58.5) and New Brunswick (58.0) continued to report below average optimism levels.

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for September:

  • 41% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (45% nationally); 14% say it is bad (10% nationally).
  • 13% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to increase full-time employment (18% nationally); 15% plan to decrease employment in the next 3-4 months (14% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (51%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (24%), and management skills, time constraints (23%).
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (67%), insurance costs (53%), fuel, energy costs (49%) and wage costs (48%).

Read the September Business Barometer

Measured on a scale of 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. September 2018 findings are based on 605 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through September 17. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 4.0 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with Marilyn Braun-Pollon, Vice-President Prairie & Agri-business on the provincial results please call (306) 757-0000, 1-888-234-2232 or email [email protected]. You may follow CFIB Saskatchewan on Twitter @cfibsk.

To arrange an interview with Ted Mallett, CFIB’s Chief Economist on the national results, please call (647) 464-2814 or email [email protected].

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

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members (5,250 in Saskatchewan) across every sector and region.