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Small business optimism in Alberta regains footing

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Index recovers from losses experienced due to the resource price crunch

Calgary, May 25, 2017 – Alberta small business confidence jumped four points in May to 61.9 according to the monthly Business Barometer®index published by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).  Small business confidence in Alberta now lands within a five-point range of the Canadian average for the first time in more than two years.

“Upward trending confidence is a positive sign that economic activity is picking up. Although business owners are optimistic about the future of their business, two-thirds are having trouble bringing customers through the door right now. Converting future expectations into tangible business success here and now is an ongoing challenge,” said Amber Ruddy, Director of Provincial Affairs for Alberta.

Short-term employment plans are still negative with a quarter of Alberta businesses still being in a position to reduce full time staffing positions and only 14 per cent intend to hire in the next three months. Twenty-four per cent of business owners report their firms are in good shape, while 26 per cent say their operation are in bad shape.

The top major cost constraints for Alberta entrepreneurs are: tax and regulatory costs (71 per cent) and fuel and energy costs (57 per cent). Sixty-four per cent of Alberta businesses cite insufficient domestic demand as their top limitation.

“Higher taxes and more regulations seems to be par for the course with the Alberta government.  It has been a busy legislative week for new mandatory business requirements and not one government MLA has suggested any ways to trim back the regulatory burden in other areas,” said Ruddy.

The national Business Barometer index hit a two year high reaching 66.0. The other provincial numbers were: British Columbia (69.4), Ontario (68.2), PEI (67.9), Manitoba (66.4), Quebec (65.0), Nova Scotia (64.4), New Brunswick (60.2), Saskatchewan (49.1) and Newfoundland & Labrador (45.3).

Measured on a scale of 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their businesses’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. According to past results, index levels normally range between 65 and 75 when the economy is growing at its potential.

May 2017 findings are based on 673 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through May 15. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.8 per cent 19 times in 20.                                                                                                    

To speak with Amber Ruddy, Alberta Director, please contact [email protected] or 403-444-9290. To arrange an interview with Ted Mallett, Chief Economist, about the national results, please contact Kiara Morrissey at 416-222-8022, 647-464-2814 or [email protected].

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region, including 10,000 in Alberta.