Business confidence reaches an 18-month high point

Business confidence in Alberta is at its highest point in more than 1 1/2 years, according to PwC Canada’s latest business and consumer confidence index.

Business confidence in Alberta is at its highest point in more than 1 1/2 years, according to PwC Canada’s latest business and consumer confidence index.

The professional services network determined that overall business confidence reached 114 on a 150-point index in May. That was up 4.6 per cent from the March level of 109, and marked the highest ranking since September 2012.

PwC Canada reported that the indices for future unemployment, current business conditions and fiscal conditions were all up in May, as compared with March, while confidence in future business conditions decreased.

“This positive trend in economic confidence, with the highest index number we’ve seen in two years, is a reflection of a thriving economy,” said Ian Gunn, Alberta private company services leader at PwC, in a news release. “The upward trend is supported by the Bank of Canada’s April release about stable interest rates, which will urge business investment as a driver for growth.”

The index revealed some concerns. With respect to the anticipated impact that political instability in the provincial government could have on the business environment, 61 per cent of business leaders anticipated an adverse effect.

On the issue of temporary foreign workers, 87 per cent said the increased scrutiny that the federal temporary foreign workers program has come under will make it more difficult to fill labour needs.

Meanwhile, when it comes to consumers’ overall confidence in the economy, the index has remained steady since the beginning of 2014. But rising home-ownership costs has resulted in 57 per cent of Albertans expecting to reduce their spending in other areas to compensate.

The PwC Canada index determines the level of confidence of business leaders and the public by tracking a number of indices: future interest rate, future business conditions, future unemployment, current business conditions and fiscal conditions.

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