BC business confidence falls flat in March

Fuel and energy are biggest concerns, with 64 per cent saying the cost is causing difficulties.

Fuel and energy are the biggest concerns for businesses.

Fuel and energy are the biggest concerns for businesses.

Business optimism fell for a second month in a row to 63.8 in March from 64.9 in February, according to a report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Those numbers are just below a growing economy, which is 65 and 75.

B.C.’s business confidence level remains below the national average 67.7.

This province currently ranks as the eighth most optimistic province in Canada – a significant decrease in rank from January when BC was fourth most optimistic province in Canada.

Forty-nine per cent of businesses in BC say the overall state of business is satisfactory, 31 per cent say it is good, and 19 per cent say it is bad.

This is in contrast to other western provinces, where business owners are expressing increased optimism and lead the country overall in optimism.

Alberta is the most optimistic province in the country with an index of 74.6, followed closely by Saskatchewan in second place with an index of 72.0, and Manitoba in third place with an index of 69.8.

Other highlights include:

• 72 per cent of BC employers do not plan to make changes to full-time employment levels while 14 per cent are planning to increase full-time employment and 14 per cent are planning to decrease employment

• Fuel and energy are the largest cost concerns for businesses with 64 per cent of business owners saying these costs are causing difficulties to their businesses. This is up from 51 per cent in February.

• 59 per cent of BC small businesses say that insufficient domestic demand is their greatest business constraint. This is up from 47 per cent in February.

All of this is outlined and illustrated in the attached BC Business Barometer for March. The national report, including a comparison chart of CFIB’s business barometer and GDP, can be found at http://www.cfib.ca/research/barometer/.