Alberta small business confidence up four points, CFIB

by Morinville News Staff

Alberta small business confidence rose four points in January to 47.2 according to the monthly Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ (CFIB) Business Barometer index. Though CFIB says the indicator made recent modest gains it is still well below the national 60.1 per cent confidence average.

Fuel and energy prices are a major cost constraint for 68 per cent of Alberta businesses polled, soaring 13 points over December to a four-and-a-half-year high. But fuel and energy are not alone as 77 per cent of Alberta entrepreneurs listed tax and regulatory costs as a major cost constraint.

“It’s clear the price of fuel and energy is a rising concern for many business owners in this economy. Alberta is only weeks into a carbon tax, and small business owners are already feeling the heat,” said Amber Ruddy, Director of Provincial Affairs for Alberta.

Although 30 per cent of the 782 businesses surveyed said they might have to cut back on employees, the number is down from the 37 per cent who felt so in December’s survey. Those looking to hire increased to 11 per cent, up four points from December.

Though, CFIB reports the general state of business remained negative with 32 per cent saying they are in bad shape, and 68 per cent citing insufficient product and service demand as a limitation to growth, 20 per cent of business owners say business is currently good.

“Three consecutive months of modest gains in small business optimism is welcome news, but still a third of Alberta entrepreneurs say their businesses are in bad shape,” Ruddy said. “Small businesses are looking for the Finance Minister to set the right tone with a business-friendly spring budget. Hopefully, he is receiving enough feedback to bring forward policies that improve the business climate.”

The National Business Barometer Index sits at 60.1. The other provincial numbers were: Quebec (68.6), Manitoba (67.1), British Columbia (65.2), Nova Scotia (65.2), PEI (64.6), New Brunswick (63.5), Ontario (63.4), Saskatchewan (55.0) and Newfoundland & Labrador (46.0).

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