Alberta Small Business Confidence Remains Flat

Confidence declines across Canada

Calgary – Alberta small business confidence sits at 57.7, unchanged for the second month in a row according to the monthly Business Barometer® index published by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

“The Alberta index now exceeds the national average, not due any positive momentum in the results, but because every other index across the county dropped,” said Amber Ruddy, Director of Provincial Affairs for Alberta.

Short-term employment plans stayed subdued in September, but showed small signs of improvement.  Twenty-one per cent of Alberta business owners intend to reduce full-time positions in the next three months, while 17 per cent are looking to increase staffing levels.

The major cost constraints for Alberta entrepreneurs continue to be tax and regulatory costs (73 per cent), fuel and energy costs (61 per cent) and wage costs (60 per cent).  Sixty-one per cent of Alberta firms cite insufficient domestic demand as their main constraint on growth.

“With a long list of government policies hitting business owners all at once, entrepreneurs are looking for some relief,” said Ruddy.  “From the federal tax proposals to provincial labour law changes to big jumps in the minimum wage, the government continues to weigh down entrepreneurs instead of lifting them up.”

Canada’s small business optimism dropped by almost three points in September to 56.9.  Nationally, the hospitality industry saw the biggest drop in September—a dip of 6.5 points.  Retail (58.0) and natural resources (55.2) are the only sectors to show an increase in confidence over August.

The provincial numbers were: Quebec (70.9), Nova Scotia (63.5), PEI (63.0), New Brunswick (60.8), British Columbia (59.9), Manitoba (57.3), Ontario (55.0), Newfoundland & Labrador (52.0), and Saskatchewan (50.9).

Measured on a scale of 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their businesses’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance.  According to past results, index levels normally range between 65 and 75 when the economy is growing at its potential.

September 2017 findings are based on 810 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey.  Data reflect responses received through September 18. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.4 per cent, 19 times in 20.

Read the September Business Barometer®

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.