CALGARY – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released the latest Business Barometer index that shows Alberta’s small business outlook dropped one point from last month to 47. Nationally, there was a slight drop in small business confidence levels, with seven of 10 provinces reporting a decline, shaving a point off the national index (60.5).
Hiring plans in Alberta have virtually come to a standstill. Only 21 per cent of business owners surveyed in April said they planned to add full-time staff over the next three months versus 17 per cent who plan to cut back.
There has also been a serious decline in the general state of business health. Thirty-five per cent say their firms are in good shape, an 8 point drop over March and down 20 points from mid 2014.
“Those running for elected office must be cognizant of what keeps business owners up at night. Half of business owners list tax, regulatory costs, and wages as major cost constraints. Now is not the time to increase the cost of doing business” remarked Amber Ruddy, Senior Policy Analyst for CFIB.
“The next government should, in fact, prioritize small business tax relief to spur economic growth and job creation. Government policy must restore business optimism across the province, not shake it to its core,” concluded Ruddy.
While improvement was reported on Alberta’s skilled labour shortage, still 35 per cent of owners identified it as a problem. This is down 3 points from last month and at the lowest level in Alberta since late 2013.
British Columbia led the nation in small business confidence (71.9) while Saskatchewan fell to 50. Central Canada reported mixed results: Manitoba posted big gains, jumping to 60.2, while Ontario saw a three-point drop to 62.5. Quebec’s index fell slightly to 57.3. Nova Scotia (63.3) and New Brunswick (60.7) both saw optimism fall. Nova Scotia dropped to 63.3 while New Brunswick slipped to 60.7. Prince Edward Island led Atlantic Canada again with a healthy 69.2, while Newfoundland and Labrador rose to 59.
About the Business Barometer: 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 75 means the economy is growing at its potential. The April 2015 findings are based on 1,008 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through April 20. Findings are considered accurate to +\- 3.1 per cent 19 times in 20.
More details about the Business Barometer are available at www.cfib.ca.
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.