Alberta Small Business Confidence Remains High

Hiring intentions strong; shortage of labour remains biggest challenge

CALGARY – According to the latest Business Barometer survey results released by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), confidence among Alberta’s entrepreneurs remained high at 72.6, virtually unchanged from May when it reached the highest point in the past two years.

Nationally, however, the Business Barometer Index dropped 3.6 points to 63.5, erasing gains made since March. British Columbia (73.7) continues to have the most optimistic small business owners in the country, followed by Alberta (72.6), Newfoundland (70.0), Saskatchewan (65.8), Manitoba (64.0), Quebec (62.0), Ontario (61.9), PEI (61.0), New Brunswick (60.7), and Nova Scotia (55.8).

“It’s great to see confidence levels stay high for a couple of months in a row. Despite the many challenges they face, Alberta’s entrepreneurs appear to be maintaining a positive outlook about the future,” says Richard Truscott, Director of Provincial Affairs for CFIB.

Fifty-three per cent of Alberta’s entrepreneurs describe the general health of their business as being good in June, up eight points over May. Only eight per cent said things were bad, down from 11 points from the month before.

Short-term hiring intentions remained very strong, with 37 per cent of entrepreneurs planning to add to their full-time staff within the next three months, up two points over May. On the flip-side, only five per cent expect to cut back full-time staff in June, an increase of just one point.

“Labour shortages continue to vex business owners in our province as their number one operating challenge”, says Truscott. Thirty eight per cent of business owners surveyed identified the shortage of skilled labour as limiting sales or production growth, while 23 per cent said a scarcity of people to fill lower skilled positions was a limiting factor.

Of note, confidence among business owners in the hospitality sector across Canada dropped eight points in June to 53.0. The sector has been facing serious labour shortages over the past few years. On April 25th, the federal government imposed a moratorium on employers in the food services sector from using the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

About the Business Barometer: 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. The June 2014 findings are based on 1,042 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.0 per cent 19 times in 20.

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, giving independent business a strong and influential voice at all levels of government and helping to grow the economy.