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Small business confidence holds on for one more month

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Halifax, 30 March 2017– Business optimism among Nova Scotia's small businesses has remained steady in March. The Business Barometer Index (65.9) has been almost at the same level for the past six months. Short-term employment plans are still muted with almost equal shares of business owners planning to decrease employment (8 per cent) as those planning to hire additional staff (11 per cent). About 47 per cent business owners are reporting their firms are in good shape while 17 per cent say their firms are in bad shape.

Canada's small business optimism is steady in March, holding on to the strong gains it had posted a month earlier. CFIB's monthly Business BarometerÒ index remains at 62.9 points—the same as in February and 2.7 points above January’s reading.  Although its trend is on the upswing, confidence still has a way to go before reaching historical norms.

The national index has been supported by steadily improving perspectives in Alberta (55.5) as well as modest gains to indexes in Ontario (65.6), British Columbia (64.9) and Nova Scotia (65.9). Small business optimism in Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick is in similar territory (65.7, 64.5 and 63.8 respectively) but saw slight declines from their February levels. After three-consecutive monthly increases, Saskatchewan’s index dropped slightly to 56.3, while bigger declines were seen in Prince Edward Island (58.6) and Newfoundland and Labrador (42.2).

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.

March 2017 findings are based on 730 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through March 20. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

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