Business Barometer®: Optimism remains sluggish; small businesses plan to increase wages in early 2018

Toronto/Calgary, December 28, 2017 – As we head into the new year, small business confidence remains muted across much of the country, according to the latest Business Barometer® survey, released today by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The monthly index measuring small business optimism edged up in December to 59.7 (out of 100), well below its 12-month peak of 66.0 in May 2017. One normally sees an index level of between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential.

“Despite a growing economy, the concern over rising wages and taxes have many small businesses nervous about what the first few months of 2018 holds for them,” said Ted Mallett, Vice-President and Chief Economist at CFIB.

The survey does show a big jump in short-term wage expectations: over the next three months, small businesses plan to increase wages by 2.7 percent—by far the highest reading recorded since the survey was initiated in 2009.


Provincial Results: Quebec remains on top

Once again, business owners in Quebec are the country’s most optimistic—as they have been for much of 2017—with that index rising almost a point to 66.3. Larger improvements of more than three points came from British Columbia (64.3) and Alberta (60.1), while Saskatchewan (50.9) experienced the biggest drop in confidence.



Confidence Index

Change from November

Quebec 66.3 +0.9
British Columbia 64.3 +3.5
Nova Scotia 60.8 +0.9
Alberta 60.1 +3.9
Ontario 57.5 -0.8
Manitoba 57.4 +2.1
Prince Edward Island 56.5 +0.7
Saskatchewan 50.9 -1.4
New Brunswick 50.8 -0.6
Newfoundland & Labrador 50.0 +1.0


Industry results: Retail and hospitality sectors are most pessimistic

Despite the holidays, business owners in the retail (53.7) and hospitality (44.5) sectors are the least confident heading into 2018; both industries saw big declines in December.

Conversely, the financial services, insurance and real estate sector saw the largest increase (+6.1) in confidence in December and is now the most optimistic industry group, with an index score of 66.1.

About CFIB

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region. Learn more at