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Sask small biz optimism edges up slightly in June; but still lowest in the West

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  • Sask small biz optimism edges up slightly in June; but still lowest in the West

According to the latest monthly Business Barometer®, optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan edged up slightly to an index of 51.8 in June, from 49.1 in May, but is still the lowest in Western Canada and nine points below the national average index of 60.9.

Although optimism among Saskatchewan's small businesses increased slightly in June after the massive drop last month, its index is still the lowest in the West and the second lowest in the country. However, what is most concerning is the current state of business health, which is amongst the lowest in the country. Only 32 per cent of Saskatchewan entrepreneurs say that their businesses are in good shape (compared to 51% in June 2015), while 13 per cent see their firms in bad shape. Hiring plans are also stalled in June with 15 per cent of business owners looking to decrease full-time employment over the next three months, and only 13 per cent looking to hire.

Canada's small business optimism dropped by more than five points in June to the 60.9 mark, according to the CFIB’s Business Barometer®.

June’s big shift is almost entirely localized to a 10-point drop in Ontario. Index levels often vary for purely statistical reasons, but the downdraft in Ontario is likely policy based. The sweeping labour standards legislation announced in late May appears to be adding considerable uncertainty over future operating conditions there.

Ontario’s index now sits at 58.0, third lowest in the country after Saskatchewan (51.8) and Newfoundland and Labrador (48.2), both of which saw slight improvements in June. Businesses in British Columbia (69.5) are still the most optimistic in the country, with Prince Edward Island (67.5) and Manitoba (67.1) close behind. Quebec (65.8)saw a small gain, as did New Brunswick (63.6), while Nova Scotia (63.5) saw a slight dip. After six consecutive months of gains, Alberta (61.7) held even in June. Results and the full report are available at: Business Barometer

Highlights of the Saskatchewan Business Barometer for June:

  • 32% of businesses in Saskatchewan say their overall state of business is good (40% nationally); 13% say it is bad (10% nationally).
  • 15% plan to decrease employment in the next 3-4 months (11% nationally) and 13% of Saskatchewan businesses plan to increase full-time employment (16% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand remains the main operating challenge (48%), followed by shortage of skilled labour (28%), and management skills, time constraints (23%)
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax, regulatory costs (55%), wage costs (46%) and insurance costs (42%).