Small business gains confidence in August: CFIB

Manufacturers among the top three expressing the greatest optimism.

August 29, 2013   by CANADIAN PRESS, PLANT

TORONTO — Small business confidence continued to increase in August, particularly in manufacturing, according to latest index provided by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Its business barometer index rose 1.7 points to 65.9, its highest mark since February, with an index above 50 suggesting owners expect their businesses’ performance to be stronger in the next year.

CFIB chief economist and vice-president Ted Mallett says August has been a pretty good month for small businesses in agriculture, manufacturing, retail, professional services and hospitality. But he adds there are uneven or weak outlooks for construction and transportation.

Manufacturing (68.5) was just behind retail (68.6) while professional and enterprise services led both at 70.2.

The CFIB says entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan are the most optimistic in Canada, with an index of 70.7.

Newfoundland and Labrador is a close second at 70.4, followed by Alberta at 69.5, Ontario at 67.8 and British Columbia at 66.3.

Quebec (59), New Brunswick (58.5), Nova Scotia (58), and Manitoba (57.6) are below the national average and PEI (50) is at the back of the pack.

TD Economics says increases in confidence in Alberta and Québec suggest that temporary factors in June and July, such as the floods in Southern Alberta and the construction strike in Québec, were short-lived.

“Both continue to face different headwinds, as Alberta keeps on scoring high on limitations of growth due to a shortage of skilled labour (37%), while Québec scores the highest nationally on insufficient foreign demand (11%) given its stronger ties to Europe and the US than most provinces, says Sonny Scarfone, research associate.

“Once again, increased confidence among Ontario entrepreneurs has powered the national average, although the Index numbers are up in seven of the 10 provinces,” said Mallett.

Scarfone notes insufficient demand was stated as a limitation by 33% of owners, the lowest showing since the question was asked. “Continued economic strength stemming from the US seems to be a shared expectation by Canada’s small business owners, he says.

The August findings are based on 1,018 responses, collected from a random sample of CFIB members to a controlled-access web survey.

Click here for a copy of the results.

Files from PLANT

© 2013 The Canadian Press

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