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Business confidence up in August

Alberta business owners regained some of their swagger in August, according to the latest survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

The CFIB calculated that the level of confidence that operators of small and medium-sized businesses had in the economy and their business last month was 71.7 on a 100-point scale. That marked a 2.3-point improvement from the results of a similar survey in July.

“After July’s three-point decline, it’s encouraging to see the Alberta index break back through that 70-point threshold,” said Richard Truscott, the CFIB’s director of provincial affairs in Alberta. “This sets things up nicely for a busy final quarter this fall.”

Thirty-five per cent of respondents said they planned to increase their full-time staff over the next three months, while six per cent anticipated a reduction. When it came to their assessment of the general health of their businesses, 57 per cent said it was “good,” up two points from July. Five per cent described it as “bad,” down one point as compared with July.

“In terms of the overall state of business in our province, August registered the best post-recession reading to date,” said Truscott. “Obviously, that’s a good sign for Alberta’s economy.”

Labour shortages remain a worry, with 54 per cent of the entrepreneurs surveyed saying their sales or production growth are being adversely affected as a result.

Elsewhere in the country, the CFIB found entrepreneurs in Newfoundland to be the most optimistic, with an August confidence level of 72.7. After Alberta’s 71.7 rating, British Columbians scored the next highest, at 70.2. Saskatchewan respondents averaged 65.0, while those from Ontario came in at 64.7 and Manitobans were 63.0. The confidence level in New Brunswick was 62.6, in Quebec it was 60.4, in Nova Scotia it was 60.3 and in Prince Edward Island it was 56.5. The national average was 65.5.

The CFIB has more than 109,000 business members nationwide, including a number in Central Alberta. The organization says its business confidence index normally ranges between 65 and 75 when the economy is growing at its potential. The August survey was based on 957 responses.

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