Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Smaller firms here feeling bearish

Business barometer finds 'huge' confidence decline

  • Print

A growing number of Manitoba's small and medium-sized businesses are feeling a little down in the dumps these days, according to the latest monthly survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

The CFIB said Manitoba's business barometer index, which measures business confidence, dropped to its lowest level in more than two years in August, falling 6.4 points to 58.1 from 64.5 in July.

"That is a huge decline," said Janine Carmichael, the CFIB's Manitoba director.

Carmichael said the last time confidence levels were that low was mid-2010. August was also the first time this year confidence levels in Manitoba have fallen below the Canadian average, she noted, "so that's a big concern."

The CFIB said Canada's confidence index fell for the fifth consecutive month in August, dropping to 60 from 60.9 in July.

Carmichael said with the exception of a brief uptick earlier this summer, confidence in Manitoba has been drifting downward since the start of the year. And a combination of factors is likely to blame.

"It could be demand (for their products and services), or their staffing situation," she said. "It could even be jitters about what's going on in the world."

Rising costs are also top of mind with local business operators, with 73 per cent of Manitoba respondents citing taxes and regulations as their biggest cost pressure. Other costs they cited were wages (59 per cent) and fuel and energy (50 per cent).

Carmichael said rising costs associated with tax increases and increased government regulation have been a long-standing concern for local businesses.

"But I have never seen it at 73 per cent. That's the highest in the country," she said. "I sure hope that acts as a wake-up call for politicians."

Carmichael pointed out the City of Winnipeg raised municipal property taxes this year for the first time in many years, and the provincial government increased the sales tax and the provincial minimum wage.

All of those changes added to the cost of doing business, she said, and sent the wrong message to the local business community.

The one bright note in the latest survey results was 76 per cent of Manitoba respondents said they expect no changes in their full-time employment levels over the next three to four months, Carmichael said.

"And 14 per cent said they plan to increase full-time employment. So there's lots of stability there... "

Manitoba's confidence level in August was the fourth-lowest among the provinces. Prince Edward Island has the lowest confidence level at 46.3, while Saskatchewan had the highest at 69.5.

Carmichael said normal confidence levels for Manitoba are 60 to 65 points. The peak was 74.9 in March of last year.

The CFIB said the steady decline in national confidence is likely a reflection of the slow growth in the national economy.

"(But) just to keep things in perspective, the index is still more than 20 points higher than the recessionary low of 39.9 in December of 2008," said Ted Mallett, CFIB vice-president and chief economist.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

-- with files from The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 6, 2012 B5

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

It’s the End Of the Term And They Know It, Part Two

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- WINTER FILE. Snowboarder at Stony Mountain Ski Hill. November 14, 2006.
  • STDUP ‚Äì Beautiful West End  begins it's summer of bloom with boulevard s, front yards  and even back lane gardens ,  coming alive with flowers , daisies and poppies  dress up a backyard lane on Camden St near Wolseley Ave  KEN GIGLIOTTI  / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  /  June 26 2012

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who will you vote for in Wednesday's mayoral race?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google