Manitoba Small Business Optimism is Up

Manitoba PostNews

WINNIPEG, MB – Optimism among small business owners in Manitoba improved slightly in February to an index of 63.2, up from in 61.6 in January, and remains just above the national average index of 62.4 according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The CFIB said their latest monthly Business Barometer shows that Manitoba’s optimism is also just above the national average index of 62.4.

“It is encouraging to see that Manitoba’s small business optimism continued to show a modest improvement this month. However, Manitoba’s index still trails February 2017’s index of 66.9,” said Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs for Manitoba. “Short-term hiring plan have also not seen any improvements. Currently, equal shares of entrepreneurs (14%) are looking to hire as to lay off.”

“The province’s small business owners will be looking to the upcoming federal and provincial budgets to address their top priorities,” added Alward. Fairer tax measures, and incentives for innovation and youth hiring, are at the top of small business owners’ priorities for the federal budget on February 27th. In Manitoba, top priorities for the provincial budget on March 12th include: small business tax relief; steps to return to a balanced budget by no later than 2022; and continuing to reduce red tape.

Canadian small business confidence moved sideways in February. The Index registered 62.4, virtually the same as January’s 62.7 level, and is still slightly under performing compared to the spring of 2017 and 2010-14 norms.

“While there was continued healthy optimism and improvement in much of the country, weak sentiment in Ontario and Alberta is continuing to put a drag on the national average,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB vice-president and chief economist. “We’re also seeing weaker than normal employment plans for this time of year, while businesses expecting to cut their full time positions remains high.”

Quebec’s optimism remains top in the country after a 2.6 point jump to 73.9, an all-time high for the province. Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia saw major gains of 12.6 and 8.1 points respectively, while Alberta experienced the only drop in confidence, losing three points to fall to 56.3.

Highlights of the Manitoba Business Barometer for February:

  • 48% of small businesses in Manitoba say their overall state of business is good (41% nationally); 10% say it is bad (13% nationally).
  • 14% of Manitoba small businesses plan to increase full-time employment in the next 3-4 months (17% nationally), and 14% plan to decrease employment (14% nationally).
  • Insufficient domestic demand and shortage of skilled labour are the highest cost constraints (both at 31%) followed by management skills/time constraints (27%);
  • Major cost pressures for small business include: tax/regulatory costs (67%), wage costs (58%), and insurance costs (40%).

With files from the CFIB

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