Gateway Gazette

Alberta small business confidence nears post-recession high

More than half of business owners report shortage of labour as their biggest challenge

CALGARY – According to the latest Business Barometer survey results released by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), Alberta’s small business confidence rose almost one point in October to 74.6, the highest level for the index in two and a half years.  In fact, over the past four years, the index has only been this high once, when the index also reached the 74.6 level in March 2012.

“Small business confidence is reaching historic highs.  While that’s good news in many ways, a hot economy also brings with it labour shortages, a serious downside.  As a result, we’re starting to see more concern seep into business owners’ perceptions about the overall business environment in Alberta,” says Richard Truscott, Director of Provincial Affairs for CFIB.

When asked about their view on the general state of the economy, 50 per cent of entrepreneurs characterized it as “good” in October, down one point over September, while 8 per cent described it as “bad”, up three points from the previous month.

Labour shortages remain the most significant challenge for small business in Alberta, with 52 per cent of Alberta’s entrepreneurs surveyed in October saying the shortage of skilled labour was limiting their sales or production growth, down a single point from last month.

There are also indications that small business owners are starting to moderate their growth expectations.  Thirty-two per cent of business owners surveyed were planning to add full-time staff over the next three months, down two points over September, while eight per cent were expecting to reduce staffing levels, up two points from last month.

Nationally, the Business Barometer index was buoyed by stronger confidence levels in Ontario, Alberta, and B.C., rising 2.2 points in October to 67.8.  The provincial indices were: Alberta (74.6), British Columbia (71.9), Ontario (71.1), Newfoundland (68.5), Saskatchewan (68.1), Manitoba (64.2), Nova Scotia (61.8), New Brunswick (61.4), Quebec (58.4), and PEI (52.7).

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 October 2014 findings are based on 883 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey.  Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.3 per cent 19 times in 20.More details about the Business Barometer are available at www.cfib.ca.

About CFIB: As Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses, CFIB is Powered by Entrepreneurs™.  Established in 1971, CFIB takes direction from more than 109,000 members in every sector nationwide, including 10,000 in Alberta, giving independent business a strong and influential voice at all levels of government and helping to grow the economy.

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