Alberta Small Business Confidence Wavers

45% of AB entrepreneurs look to layoff within next 3 months, new rock-bottom low 

Calgary – Alberta small business confidence dropped four points in November to 37.3 according to the monthly Business Barometer® index published by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).  The indicator made some gains since the lowest point recorded in March (26.5), but is trending downward again. 

Staffing intentions worsened with 45 per cent of Alberta businesses saying they may enact full-time reductions in the next three months.  This is up five points over last month.  Only four per cent are looking to hire staff, compared to five per cent in October.  Both staffing intention figures are the worst documented in Alberta. 

“Modest gains in optimism have eroded showing Alberta’s economy is still in a very delicate state.  The shedding of positions is concerning and expected to get worse.  Each month new rock bottom records are being set for the wrong reasons,” says Amber Ruddy, Director of Provincial Affairs for Alberta. 

Insufficient demand is a limitation for 65 per cent of businesses.  Seventy-one per cent of entrepreneurs list tax and regulatory costs as a major cost constraint, while 65 per cent point to wage pressures.  Fuel and energy costs (57%) shot up 7 points this month, the highest it’s been in over two years. 

“Higher taxes, more regulation, increased wage pressures, and fuel and energy costs are the tip of the iceberg.  Small businesses are tapped out and want this government to slow down, reflect, and incorporate the small business perspective in every action taken,” said Ruddy.

The general state of business remained negative.  Sixteen per cent of business owners say the general state of business health is good, while 35 per cent state they are in bad shape, largely unchanged from October. 

The national Business Barometer index rose to 59.4.  The other provincial numbers were: PEI (71.4), British Columbia (69.0), Nova Scotia (64.9), Quebec (63.8), Manitoba (63.2) Ontario (62.2), New Brunswick (59.4), Saskatchewan (51.3) and Newfoundland & Labrador (42.3). 

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. 

November 2016 findings are based on 623 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey.  Data reflect responses received through November 12.  Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.9 per cent 19 times in 20.                                                                                                        

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.