Small business confidence gets stronger in February: CFIB

TORONTO – Small businesses appear to be feeling more optimistic in early 2013, according to the latest survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

The CFIB says its index rose a half a point to 66.2 in February on a scale of 0 to 100.

An index level above 50 means owners who expect their operations to be stronger in the next year outnumber those who expecting a weaker performance.

Small business owners in Alberta remain the most optimistic in Canada, with an index of 71, closely followed by Saskatchewan at 69.8 and Newfoundland and Labrador at 67.0.

Ontario (65.3), Nova Scotia (65.3), British Columbia (64.9), Quebec (64.6), Manitoba (63.4), and New Brunswick (62.2) are slightly below the national average while Prince Edward Island (54.1) saw a sharp drop in business confidence.

The CFIB also says full-time hiring plans are better than seasonal norms, with 26 per cent of businesses expecting to hire more staff in the next few months, and only six per cent planning to cut back.

“For the first time in awhile, small business owners are reporting index numbers that indicate the economy is growing nearer its potential,” said CFIB chief economist and vice-president Ted Mallett.

“The January and February results suggest Canadians are seeing modest, but widespread economic growth.”

The February findings are based on 974 responses from a random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. the findings are statistically accurate to plus or minus 3.2 per cent 19 times in 20.