If the cool, wet end to summer left some Albertans feeling glum, business owners weren’t among them.
A survey this month by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business found the confidence level of its members to be the highest in a year and a half. Measured on a scale of 100, the 73.8 index was up 2.1 points from August and marked the second month of substantial gains.
“The level of confidence among Alberta’s entrepreneurs is up by 4.4 points since July, including another two points this month,” said Richard Truscott, director of provincial affairs for CFIB in Alberta. “That’s clearly a healthy jump and certainly good news for our provincial economy,”
Thirty-four of respondents to the September survey said they expect to add full-time staff, as compared with six per cent who anticipate cuts. More than half described the economy as being “good,” while five per cent characterized it as “bad.”
Labour is a point of concern, suggested the survey, with 53 per cent of the entrepreneurs polled citing skilled labour shortages as a restriction on their sales or production growth.
“Alberta’s economy appears to be running at full tilt, but the shortage of qualified labour continues to hamstring the growth and success of smaller firms,” said Truscott.
Despite the growing optimism of business owners in Alberta, they aren’t as upbeat as their counterparts in Newfoundland. The September confidence index in that province was 74.2.
British Columbia trailed Alberta with an index of 70.9, followed by Saskatchewan (68.2), Manitoba (65.8), Ontario (65.2), Nova Scotia (63.5) Quebec (60.5), New Brunswick (59.2), and Prince Edward Island (53.8). The national business confidence index was 65.6.
CFIB represents more than 109,000 small and medium-sized businesses across Canada, including in Central Alberta. The organization said an index levels between 65 and 75 normally indicates that an economy is growing at its potential.