For almost two straight quarters, business confidence has been holding steady, leading some to believe we are pulling out of the fragile economy.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses released its quarterly report on business confidence.
The numbers are in the range of a healthy growing economy, and come close to the figures experienced before the economic meltdown of 2008.
The B.C. Barometer Index rose slightly from its level in February at 70.1 to 71.4 in small business during the first quarter of 2011.
The national average held steady in March at 69.2 virtually unchanged from its February level of 69.4.
“Our survey tends to track very closely with actual economic performance,” said Laura Jones, CFIB Vice President for Western Canada. “We’re not asking people in ivory towers what they think of the economy, we’re asking people on the ground `what’s happening in your business? How confident are you? ‘ “
The continued optimism makes four straight months that the national index has been in the healthy part of the index range (index levels between 65 and 75 indicate a growing economy).
“I look at this as a leading indicator of where we’re at in British Columbia’s economy,” Jones said. “It’s very timely, and you’re asking people who know best.”
The indicators show businesses are starting to hire again and give raises to existing employees, when they’re likely to invest in new equipment and become more competitive, meaning more tax dollars for schools and hospitals, Jones said.
“This affects every British Columbian in any number of ways.”
The current numbers show that most employers do not plan to make changes to full-time employment levels (63 per cent), while 20 per cent plan to increase full-time employment and 17 per cent plan to decrease.
· 53 per cent of businesses in BC say the overall state of business is satisfactory, 28 per cent say it is good, and 19 per cent say it is bad.
· Fuel and energy costs have increased over the last month with 63 per cent of business owners saying these costs are causing difficulties for their business. This is up from 55 per cent in February.
· 55 per cent of BC small businesses say that insufficient domestic demand is their greatest business constraint, followed by management skills and time constraints (29 per cent).
All of this information outlined and illustrated in the BC Business Barometer for March 2011, which can be found at http://www.cfib.ca/research/barometer/.