Small business confidence grows in October: CFIB

Full-time hiring plans much better than average

Optimism among Canada's small- and medium-size businesses grew stronger in October, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The Business Barometer index increased 3.6 points from 62 in September to 65.6, its highest point since April.

"October's gains are the biggest one-month improvement in business confidence we've seen in two years," said Ted Mallett, CFIB's chief economist and vice-president. "Our survey results suggest the economy is shaking off some of the sluggishness we've seen since the spring."

Small business owners in Newfoundland and Labrador (76.7) remain the most optimistic in Canada, followed closely by Alberta (72.2) and Saskatchewan (67.8). The biggest gains in optimism were observed in Ontario (65.6), British Columbia (64.7), and Nova Scotia (59.6), while smaller improvements occurred in Quebec (61.9), Manitoba (57.4), and Prince Edward Island (50). Only New Brunswick (down four points to 58.6) saw a decline, found the index which surveyed 900 SMBs.

"By sector, manufacturing, professional services and information, arts and culture are all showing above-average confidence," added Mallett. "It looks as though some of this is being driven by better economic news from the United States."

Full-time hiring plans continue to be better than average for this time of the year: 19 per cent of business owners plan to hire full-time staff in the next three or four months compared to 12 per cent who say they will cut back. These numbers are much more positive than the findings from October 2011 and 2010, said CFIB.

Overall, 41 per cent of business owners described their state of business to be in "good" shape, about three-times the 13 per cent who said their state of business is "bad."

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