Calgary – Just as it was one year ago, Alberta small and mid-sized enterprise owners and operators (SMEs) are worried about labour and workforce issues. But the reasons they worry about employee-related issues has changed. That’s the key finding from the latest edition of the ATB Business Beat survey.
In each survey, ATB asks SMEs what, besides sales, keeps them up at night. One year ago, the most popular answer was labour/workforce, with comments focusing on the difficulty of finding and retaining skilled employees. In the latest edition of the Business Beat, worries about keeping staff members employed and busy, pending layoffs and meeting payroll were the most common SME concerns.
“What a difference a year can make,” said Wellington Holbrook, ATB’s Executive Vice-President, Business & Agriculture. “The economic downturn has had a major impact on small and mid-sized businesses in Alberta, especially when it comes to keeping staff on. We encourage any business owner in Alberta having difficulty making payroll to talk to your banker. Depending on your unique situation, we may be able to help, both in the short term and long term.”
The ATB Economy Index—which measures confidence in the province’s economy among Alberta SMEs—is at an all-time low. The Economy Index currently sits at 19.2, down from 23.1 in January. The ATB Business Index, meanwhile, rebounded slightly to 44.6, up from 40.9 in the previous survey. The Business Index measures small and mid-sized business owners’ confidence in their own operations. Scores below 50 mean more respondents feel pessimistic than optimistic.
Breaking down the results to specific sectors, SMEs in the energy sector are the most optimistic in the Alberta economy with an Economy Index result of 21.6. SMEs in the retail sector are the least optimistic with an index of 16.4. When it comes to confidence in their own operations, SMEs in the construction sector are the most optimistic with a Business Index result of 52.0. Once again, retail SMEs are the least optimistic in their own operations with an index of 32.0.
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