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Big decline in small business confidence

A small business advocacy group is reporting declining levels of confidence among Alberta entrepreneurs.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business reported on Thursday that a recent survey of its members revealed a 3.5-point drop in confidence in Alberta, as compared with the results of a December poll, and a five-point decrease from November. The Alberta index is now down to 67.1 out of a possible 100.

“There has been a significant decline in small business confidence levels in Alberta over the past two months,” acknowledged Richard Truscott, CFIB’s Alberta director, in a release. “But to put it into perspective, its also almost exactly where things sat in January of last year.”

The CFIB survey indicated a national confidence index of 64, which was 1.7 points higher than in December. Small business operators in British Columbia were the most confident, with an index of 71.8, followed by Newfoundland (68.1), Alberta, Ontario (65.4), Saskatchewan (63.7), Manitoba (62.6), Prince Edward Island (58.8), Nova Scotia (58.1), New Brunswick (56.6) and Quebec (56.2).

CFIB said that index levels normally range between 65 and 75 when the economy is growing at its potential.

Despite the decline in business confidence in Alberta, 44 per cent of respondents described the general health of their business as good, compared with eight per cent who said it was bad. Thirty per cent said they planned to hire full-time employees in the next three months, versus seven per cent who said they were expecting a reduction.

“Although there is no cause for alarm, the downward drift is a bit concerning,” said Truscott. “We’ll certainly be watching the Alberta numbers closely over the next couple of months to see where 2014 takes us.”

CFIB has more than 109,000 members in every sector nationwide.



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