Small Business Confidence Slips in February
Prince George, B.C.- Small business confidence in British Columbia dipped in February, the second straight month where it has seen a slight decline, but the survey was conducted prior to the Provincial Budget being delivered.The February survey indicated small business optimism dropped 1.5 points to 63.7. Despite the decline, that is still above where it was in February of last year (61.1) and still ahead of the national index which is 62.9.
An index level over 50 means business owners expect their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year and an index level of between 65 and 75 means the economy is growing at its potential.
BC Economist, Aaron Aerts expects the B.C. business confidence will rebound in March as the Provincial budget provided some relief in a couple of key areas “We saw small business tax cuts and some work on the pst so that’s really high priority for small businesses, so we might see a rebound in March” He says overall, the budget was good for small businesses
He says the issue of affordable housing remains a concern for small business as they try to recruit and retain employees “Whether its dealing with higher property taxes today than it was ten years ago or whether it’s trying to find qualified labour due to the fact they are finding it difficult to find places to live . There’s a mismatch between where are people are living and where people are needed to work.” finding skilled labour remains a challenge says the CFIB as 39 per cent of those surveyed indicated it is limiting sales or production.
He says the Provincial sales tax remains the biggest tax challenge for small business ” We have seen some improvement in this budget, but we would like to see some more done to make it a little more competitive with other jurisdictions.”
The overall hiring intentions were improved in February. Eighteen per cent of small business owners plan to increase full-time staff in the next three months, the same as in January. But only seven per cent say they are looking to cut back, down three points from January.
While B.C. dropped in its provincial placement from third to 7th place, that slide had more to do with increases in confidence in other provinces.
The provincial numbers were: Manitoba (66.9), Quebec (66.6), PEI (66.1), Nova Scotia (65.2), New Brunswick (64.8), Ontario (64.7), BC (63.7), Saskatchewan (57.7), Alberta (49.8), and Newfoundland (43.6).