The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released its latest monthly Business Barometer, which reveals optimism among small business owners in Saskatchewan remains steady from an index of 66.4 to 66.5 in December, above the national index of 62.6. Fifty-five per cent of Saskatchewan small business owners rate their overall state of business as good – the second highest in Canada and well ahead of the national average of 41 per cent. Twenty-two per cent plan to increase full time employment in the next 3 to 4 months – the second highest in Canada.
“It is good to see Saskatchewan small business owners ending 2012 among the most optimistic in Canada,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s Vice-President, Prairie and Agri-business. “Yet, optimism is somewhat lower than we saw in early 2012. Let’s hope upcoming federal, provincial, and municipal budgets introduce policies that sharpen Saskatchewan’s competitive edge and fuel optimism in 2013.”
Nationally, after a few months of swings, Canada’s small business confidence basically held steady in December. CFIB’s latest Business Barometer® Index came in at 62.6 for the month, slightly off its 62.9 reading in November, but not enough to be a statistically relevant change. The index finishes 2012 at a level better than its summer performance, but below levels registered earlier in the year. However, generally positive readings from employment and capital investment plans suggest growth would rebound in the event of renewed economic optimism in the US and Europe.
This latest data shows a continued narrowing of the differences in small business optimism by province. Most of the national story is explained by the tempering of optimism in the energy powerhouse provinces. Businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador are still the country’s most optimistic, but the index level is down to 69.1. Similarly, the indexes for Saskatchewan (66.5) and Alberta (65.7), still numbers two and three on the list, are now at more than two year lows. With the exception of Prince Edward Island (54.3), the remaining provinces have index levels tightly bunched in the 59-to-63 range. Results and the full report are available at: www.cfib-fcei.ca/english/barometer.
Provincial highlights include:
- 55 per cent of businesses in Saskatchewan say the overall state of business is good (41 per cent nationally); 40 per cent say it is satisfactory (44 per cent nationally).
- 22 per cent of Saskatchewan businesses plan to increase full-time employment in the next 3-4 months (20 per cent nationally) and just 8 per cent plan to decrease full-time employment (10 per cent nationally).
- The shortage of skilled labour (50 per cent) remains the main operating challenge, followed by management skills and time constraints (30 per cent).
- Major cost pressures for small business include: wages (56 per cent); fuel/energy (55 per cent); and taxes/regulations (43 per cent).