Once we commemorate Remembrance Day this month, it's usually full-on Christmas shopping, and Manitoba business owners are apparently feeling pretty confident heading into the season. In a new survey, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says business optimism in the province rose for the 6th straight month in October to an index of 63.5. That's slightly below the range of index levels (65-70) that are normally associated with an economy growing at its potential. Nationally, small business confidence rose by only half an index point to 59.8.
Ted Mallett, CFIB's vice-president and chief economist, says while the survey shows everything's doing alright, the "findings indicate that they're (Manitoba business owners) are holding back for better conditions before they make major investments in their buildings, equipment or vehicles." 47% of Manitoba business owners say overall, things are good - which is three points higher than the national average - and 17% plan to hire more workers in the next three months. The CFIB says Prince Edward Island posted the highest optimism level in the country at 69.4 index points, followed by Nova Scotia (66.8), Quebec (66.7) and New Brunswick (66.5). Manitoba (63.5) and Ontario (60.0) did not register much movement this month, but reported optimism levels above the national average.
Newfoundland and Labrador gained 3.2 index points, but remained below the national average at 55.8. In the West, the outlook was gloomy, with Alberta (53.6) and British Columbia (52.8) coming in well below the national average. Saskatchewan had the lowest confidence level in the country at 50.0, after losing 3.1 index points over last month.