CFIB says business better in July, but other measures of health remain low

by Stephen Dafoe

Small business confidence was up 2.4 per cent in Alberta in July according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ monthly survey. Business confidence sits at 58.1 per cent, almost seven points lower than what CFIB regards as a growing economy.

“Even though Alberta is well into stage 2 of its economic relaunch plan, small business sentiment is only showing cautious improvement,” CFIB’s Alberta policy analyst said Keyli Kosiorek. “The small uptick in optimism points to the fact small business recovery is going to be a long, tough road and our province’s job creators need our support now more than ever.”

The survey indicated businesses in the province are operating at 53.2 per cent capacity with a 3.6 per cent improvement over June. Those numbers although an improvement are under what CFIB considers necessary to be reliably profitable.

Eleven per cent of businesses surveyed say they are in good shape, and 48 per cent say they are in bad shape. The rest fall somewhere in between.

“While it appears small business owners are feeling more confident about where they’ll be in a year, the unique nature of this economic shock is complicating the way we look at traditional indicators,” said CFIB’s chief economist, Ted Mallett. “It’s likely that many business owners have much lower expectations of what good performance means 12 months out. Shorter-term outlooks are still very weak. Additionally, we might be seeing some survivor bias at play— a notable number of weaker businesses polled in the spring are no longer responding to the survey, suggesting many may have failed in June and July.”

Nationally, Ontario posted the highest optimism level at 66.0 and New Brunswick posted the lowest results at 50.5 per cent.

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