A jump in employers’ hiring intentions helped improve Alberta’s business confidence index in October.
The index, which is calculated monthly by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, measures business owners’ optimism on a scale of zero to 100.
Alberta’s index hit 72.2 in October, up 1.1 points from September and 4.3 points since August.
“One of the things that stands out most from October’s numbers is the seven point jump in the percentage of small and medium-sized businesses planning to hire full-time employees in the next few months,” said Richard Truscott, the CFIB’s Alberta director.
Thirty-one per cent of small business owners surveyed in October said they planned to hire in the next three or four months, up seven points from September.
Sixty-two per cent expected their employment levels to remain the same, compared with 71 per cent the month before.
Entrepreneurs who said employment in their businesses would be down accounted for seven per cent of respondents, compared with five per cent in September.
Truscott pointed out that the employment outlook improved across the country in October.
The most optimistic province was Newfoundland, which had an Business Barometer index of 76.7 in October.
Alberta was next, followed by Saskatchewan (67.8), Ontario (65.6), British Columbia (64.7), Quebec (61.9), Nova Scotia (59.6), New Brunswick (58.6), Manitoba (57.5) and Prince Edward Island (50). Nationally, the index was 65.6, up 3.6 points from September.
Alberta business owners cited the skilled labour shortage as a major concern, with 44 per cent identifying it as their greatest challenge — up from 41 per cent the previous month.
An index above 50 means owners expecting their businesses’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. Levels normally range between 65 and 75 when the economy is growing.