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Small business optimism cools in September

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Halifax, 28 September 2017– Optimism levels among Nova Scotia's small business owners dropped in September. Its Business Barometer Index of 63.5 is one of the better readings among the provinces which all have seen varying levels of decline. Short-term employment plans are modest, with 15 per cent of employers looking to hire while six per cent are planning to decrease full-time employment. About half of business owners (52 per cent) are reporting their firms are in good shape while eight per cent say their firms are in bad shape.

Overall, CFIB's monthly Business Barometer Index dropped another three points this month to land at 56.9—its fourth consecutive monthly decline. Since peaking in May, the index has lost nine points and is now at its lowest level since March 2016.

The negative shift seen in September is widespread, with declines registered in all 10 provinces and 11 of 13 industry sectors. Business owners in Quebec remain the most optimistic, with a relatively healthy index of 70.9. Owners in the Maritimes are also somewhat more optimistic than the national average. The mood is notably more subdued in the rest of the country, with Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador indexes at 50.9 and 52 respectively and Ontario not that much better at 55. Manitoba and Alberta index levels are under the 58 mark, while BC’s dropped below 60 for the first time since 2012.

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.

September 2017 findings are based on 810 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through September 18. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.4 per cent 19 times in 20.

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