alberta small businesses more optimistic: CFib
Small business confidence in Alberta took another jump forward in March, according to the latest Business Barometer index by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
The index, which was released Wednesday, rose 2.5 points in March to sit at 74.2. It has now risen 4.7 points since January 2011, almost entirely reversing the 5.6 point slide in 2010.
“Small business owners are becoming more optimistic as the economic recovery in Alberta and the other western provinces really starts to pick up steam,” said Richard Truscott, Alberta director for the CFIB. “They are also clearly moving more into hiring mode as the summer employment season edges closer.”
Twenty-three per cent of respondents in March said they plan to hire full-time employees in the next three to four months, the same as in February. However, the number of respondents saying “no change” has risen to 72 per cent, while those expecting a decrease in full-time employment dropped to only five per cent. That compareswiththe previous month when 68 per cent stated “no change” and nine per cent thought it would decrease.
Nationally, small business confidence remained relatively steady at 69.2 in March. Among the provinces, the West holds four of the top five spots. Optimism in Saskatchewan (75.2) is now highest, followed by Manitoba (74.9), Alberta (74.2), Newfoundland (72.6) and British Columbia (71.4). Entrepreneurs were least confident in the Maritimes: New Brunswick (62.3), Nova Scotia (62.4) and PEI (62.5).
Measured on a scale between 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 75 when the economy is growing. The March findings are based on 766 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Findings are statistically accurate to plus or minus three per cent, 19 times in 20.
Meanwhile, BMO Bank of Montreal announced Wednesday small and medium-sized business lending in Alberta reached $3.9 billion in 2010. And with small businesses accounting for about 30 per cent of GDP, BMO also announced the hiring of 150 new small business banking experts across the country.