Business confidence reaching historic highs

Business confidence in Alberta appears to be moving in the opposite direction of the thermometer.

Business confidence in Alberta appears to be moving in the opposite direction of the thermometer.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business announced on Thursday that a survey of its members this month revealed a confidence level of 74.6 on a 100-point scale — the highest level in 2 1/2 years and only the second time in four years that it’s hit the 74.6-point mark.

“Small business confidence is reaching historic highs,” said Richard Truscott, director of provincial affairs for the CFIB in Alberta.

“While that’s good news in many ways, a hot economy also brings with it labour shortages — a serious downside,” added Truscott. “As a result, we’re starting to see more concern seep into business owners’ perceptions about the overall business environment in Alberta.”

Fifty-two per cent of respondents to the CFIB survey said the shortage of skilled labour is limiting their sales or production growth. Meanwhile, 32 per cent of the business owners surveyed said they planned to add full-time staff over the next three months, down two points from September; while eight per cent were expecting to reduce staffing levels, up two points from last month.

Asked about the general state of the economy, 50 per cent of entrepreneurs described it as “good” in October, down one point from September; while eight per cent said it was “bad,” up three points.

Alberta had the highest business confidence level in Canada, with British Columbia next at 71.9 and Ontario third at 71.1. Newfoundland was at 68.5, Saskatchewan 68.1, Manitoba 64.2, Nova Scotia 61.8, New Brunswick 61.4, Quebec 58.4 and Prince Edward Island 52.7. The national average was 67.8, up 2.2 points from September. Alberta’s index rose 0.8 points in October. The CFIB says a business confidence index level between 65 and 75 means the economy is growing at its potential.

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