Small business confidence in Alberta continues to rise.
The latest Business Barometer by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, released on Thursday, found that Alberta posted another optimism jump in June, climbing 7.2 index points to 59.0.
An index of 59 points is still below the 65-to-75 point range (on the 100-point scale) that indicates the economy is growing at its potential, said the CFIB.
This latest increase puts the Business Barometer index for Alberta at the highest it’s been since January 2018. It was the second month in a row that it has risen.
Overall, Alberta’s small business confidence index is now up 21.5 points since January of this year.
“While small business owners are clearly more optimistic about the future of Alberta’s economy and business climate, there is still lots of room for improvement,” said Richard Truscott, CFIB vice-president for Alberta and B.C., in a news release.
“Hopefully, there are real reasons for entrepreneurs to be optimistic and it’s not just wishful thinking. The Alberta government must continue to focus on creating the conditions for job creation and growth through supportive regulatory, taxation, and economic policies.”
Truscott said 16 per cent of business owners plan to increase their full-time employment (up three per cent from May), compared to 19 per cent who anticipate a decrease their full-time employment (down four per cent from May).
In Canada, confidence levels went up nearly two index points to 61.5, the highest level since August 2018.
“We saw confidence increases in nearly all provinces this month,” said CFIB vice-president and chief economist Ted Mallett. “Optimism levels are still behind what we saw in 2014 and have a way to go before they’re back to full health, but this month’s reading bodes well for long-term investment plans.”
The provincial numbers for June were: Prince Edward Island (68.4), Quebec (67.6), Nova Scotia (63.9), Ontario (62.6), Alberta (59.0), New Brunswick (57.2), Manitoba (55.4), Saskatchewan (54.5), British Columbia (53.8), and Newfoundland and Labrador (50.0).
“After some disappointing readings observed in other parts of the world, it’s nice to get some positive news on business sentiment for a change. The CFIB index increased for the third straight month and suggests that small businesses are keeping their head up in the face of mounting economic risks. Particularly notable are the gains in the Prairie provinces, where confidence had been hurt by oil sector turmoil,” said Rishi Sondhi, economist with TD Economics, in a commentary note.
“Still, we wouldn’t call this report a home run. Indeed, slightly less firms planned to increase staffing and a lower share described their situation as ‘good,’ taking some shine off the headline. Small businesses continue to struggle with labour shortages, according to the CFIB report. This data, along with indicators such as low unemployment and high job vacancy rates, suggest that labour markets are tight.”