After a lacklustre November and December, Canadian entrepreneurs are feeling more optimistic in early 2013, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The Business Barometer┬« index continued January’s upward trend by rising another half a point to 66.2 in February.
“For the first time in awhile, small business owners are reporting index numbers that indicate the economy is growing nearer its potential,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist and vice-president. “The January and February results suggest Canadians are seeing modest, but widespread economic growth.”
Small business owners in Alberta (71.0) remain the most optimistic in Canada, although Saskatchewan (69.8) and Newfoundland and Labrador (67.0) are not far behind. Ontario (65.3), Nova Scotia (65.3), British Columbia (64.9), Quebec (64.6), Manitoba (63.4), and New Brunswick (62.2) are all slightly below the national average. Prince Edward Island (54.1) saw a noticeable decline in business confidence.
“Despite talk of a ‘bitumen bubble’, small business confidence is strong in Alberta, and getting stronger across most of Canada,” added Mallett. “That view is buttressed by positive expectations for full-time job growth.”
Full-time hiring plans are far better than seasonal norms, with 26 per cent of businesses expecting to hire additional staff in the next few months, and only six per cent planning to cut back.
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 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. The February 2013 findings are based on 974 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.2 per cent 19 times in 20.