Canadian Contractor

By Canadian Federation of Independent Business   

Small business confidence bounces back in May: CFIB

Canadian Contractor business barometer cfib index small business

The 12-month small business confidence index has jumped 8.8 points reaching 56.4 in May, according to the latest Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) Business Barometer. After the abysmal levels seen earlier this year, confidence is back to more seasonal levels and on par with the reading recorded one year ago in May 2023.

Canada’s long-term confidence is driven mostly by Ontario’s significant gain in optimism. The most notable changes are in the retail and transportation sectors; both have registered sizeable improvements of 4.9 and 4.7 points.

“Small businesses are overall feeling cautiously positive heading into the summer. Now that all the governments have tabled their budgets, business owners at least have some idea as to what to expect in the coming months. Their increased optimism could also be partly explained by much-anticipated interest rate cuts in June and the cooling labour market,” said Andreea Bourgeois, CFIB’s director of economics. “While some indicators of cost pressure and limitations on growth are still way above their historical averages, it’s still reassuring to see overall improvements in the small business sentiment.”

The average price and wage plan increases stabilized in May, with both indicators sitting at 2.8 per cent. The average price increase indicator shaved off the 0.5 points gained in April and is almost on par with the March level.


This month’s Business Barometer suggests that the labour market pressures are easing, with 45 per cent of businesses reporting a shortage of skilled labour, down from 47 per cent last month. Full-time and part-time hiring plans remain timid in May, but stronger than earlier in the year.

“While historically more businesses plan to hire ahead of the busy summer season, this year those hiring plans are more cautious but at least firms are not looking to lay off either,” Bourgeois added.

On the other hand, more businesses reported struggling with high tax and regulatory costs. The share of businesses indicating high insurance costs has come slightly down to 68 per cent after peaking at 72 per cent in April, but it still remains much higher than its historical average of 49 per cent.


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