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Small business optimism stalled in Nova Scotia

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Halifax, 23 February 2017– Business optimism among Nova Scotia's small businesses has remained constant in February. The Business Barometer Index is at 65.2, same as the January level. Short-term employment plans are muted with equal share of business owners planning to decrease employment as those planning to hire additional staff. About 43 per cent of business owners are reporting their firms are in good shape while 14 per cent say their firms are in bad shape.

Canada's small businesses are quite a bit more upbeat in February. CFIB's monthly Business Barometer index rose 2.7 points to 62.9 this month--its best reading since January 2015. The destabilizing effects of the oil price crunch on business confidence now appear mostly behind us.

Although not quite back to normal mid-cycle levels, the index has been helped by improving perspectives in previously hard-hit Alberta (49.8) and Saskatchewan (57.7), which continue to close the gap with the rest of the country. Businesses are most upbeat in Manitoba and Quebec, with index levels at 66.9 and 66.6 respectively; however, optimism levels in the Maritimes, Ontario and BC are nearly as high--which suggests overall robustness returning to the economy. Businesses in Newfoundland & Labrador, however, remain pessimistic.

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.

February 2017 findings are based on 943 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through February 12. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.2 per cent 19 times in 20.