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Small business optimism improves in third quarter of 2017

St. John’s, September 28, 2017– Optimism among Newfoundland & Labrador's small businesses improved somewhat over the previous quarter and its Business Barometer Index reached 52.0. The current level is still among the best the province has seen in 2017, yet towards the bottom of the pack compared to the rest of the provinces. Currently, 45 per cent of respondents sees their firms in good shape while 18 per cent see their firms in bad shape. Short-term hiring expectations have been steadily improving, but are still in negative territory. Presently, 23 per cent of owners are expecting to cut back while eight per cent are planning on hiring.    

Canada’s small business confidence took a hit in September. CFIB's monthly Business BarometerÒ Index dropped another three points to land at 56.9—its fourth consecutive monthly decline. Since peaking in May, the index has lost nine points and is 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. 

For more information, contact Vaughn Hammond, Director of Provincial Affairs, at 709-753-7745 or Ted Mallett, Chief Economist and Vice-president at 416-222-8022. 

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

September 28, 2017

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