The confidence of small business owners took a hit in March after two months of encouraging growth, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The Business Barometer® index dropped three-and-a-half points from February's results to 62.9.
"The numbers show a decline in optimism, but they're in line with what we saw in late 2012," said Ted Mallett, CFIB's chief economist and vice-president in a press release. "It's too soon to say if March's results mark a shift away from the trend of January and February."
Small business owners in Saskatchewan (71.5) and Newfoundland and Labrador (69.4) are the most optimistic in Canada, while the biggest declines in confidence occurred in Alberta (66.7) and Ontario (61.9). Quebec (66.4), British Columbia (65.7), and Manitoba (64.5) are above the national average, while New Brunswick (60.4), Nova Scotia (60.4) and Prince Edward Island (56.4) are below.
"Five provinces witnessed modest improvements in their outlooks, and it's good to see that employment plans are still generally positive," said Mallet.
Full-time hiring intentions are at a post-recession high, as 27 per cent of owners expect to hire full-time staff in the next few months. More worrisome is news that only 38 per cent of entrepreneurs say their businesses are in "good" shape, which is down from the low-40s reported through 2012. In comparison, 14 per cent of owners say their businesses are in "bad" shape.