Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index August 2023

Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index, August 2023

-21,700 jobs | -0.42%

In Canada in July, small businesses with one to 19 employees employed 21,700 fewer people nationally. That’s a monthly decrease of 0.42% to 5,196,500 jobs — compared to the previous official benchmark of 5,218,200 in June’s Labour Force Survey, published by Statistics Canada.* This is the second consecutive month that small business employment has fallen in Canada.

Small business employment falls in all but one sector

Twelve out of the 13 sectors covered by the Index had falling small business employment in July — meaning these sectors now employ fewer people than they did in June. For the second consecutive month, utilities (NAICS 22) was the only sector to grow. Encouragingly, however, the sector grew faster in July, at 1.09%, creating 300 new jobs, compared to just 0.02% growth in June.

The three sectors with the fastest falling small business employment in July were:

  • Agriculture, natural resources, and mining (NAICS 11 & 21): with a drop of 1.42%, equivalent to 2,000 fewer jobs nationally. Agriculture includes farming, forestry, fishing, and hunting. Natural resources and mining cover oil and gas extraction, raw materials, and associated support services.

  • Construction (NAICS 23): with a drop of 0.75%, equivalent to 4,100 fewer jobs nationally. This sector includes both residential and commercial construction. For context, roughly one in seven small business jobs in Canada are in construction. Only the wholesale and retail sector has a larger share of small business employment.

  • Transport and warehousing (NAICS 48-49 and 44-45): with a drop of 0.74%, equivalent to 1,200 fewer jobs nationally. Transport and warehousing covers all aspects of private and commercial transport for people and goods — including trucking, taxis, air, rail, and storage.

Ontario sees fastest fall in small business employment

All five regions covered by the Index had lower small business employment in July compared to June: Ontario, British Columbia, Atlantic, Prairies, and Québec (in that order, from fastest to slowest rates of decline). 

  • Ontario had the largest decrease in small business employment in July, at 0.59%, which is equivalent to a loss of 11,300 jobs. This made a significant contribution to the national drop in small business employment last month, with roughly 40% of Canada’s small business jobs located here.  

  • Québec had the slowest rate of decrease in small business employment in July, at 0.43%. This is equivalent to 4,700 fewer jobs across the province compared to June. This is a shift from last month, when Québec had the fastest falling small business employment.

Ufuk Akcigit, the Arnold C. Harberger Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, said: “In Canada, inflation has continued to slow down, with the Consumer Price Index registering a 2.8% year-over-year increase in June, following a 3.4% increase in May. However, despite the efforts to control price increases, the national unemployment rate rose by 0.2% in June, reaching 5.4%, the highest level since 2022. This increase indicates the ongoing challenges faced by the labour market, which may have been exacerbated by the wildfires that affected multiple sectors across the country. These wildfires not only damaged households and businesses in the affected areas but also constrained credit conditions, making it harder for small businesses to access capital.

“The Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index reflects some of these challenges, with a contraction of 0.42% in employment for firms with 1-19 employees. This negative growth followed a 0.35% decline in June, underscoring the difficult macroeconomic environment. Regionally, the largest fall in small business employment was seen in Ontario, down by 0.59%.

“On a sector level, the most significant drop in small business employment occurred in the agriculture, natural resources and mining sector, down by 1.42%. The widespread wildfires in May and June had a profound impact on this sector, including a notable reduction in the available timber harvest. According to the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System, the destruction caused by these fires to date has been 13 times higher than the 10-year average. 

“Conversely, there were positive developments for the utilities sector in the past month, which includes energy. Statistics Canada recently reported a substantial energy price decrease of 14.6%. This price fall was complemented by rising small business employment in the sector, with an impressive increase of 1.09%, according to the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index. It’s encouraging to see the Index reflecting what we see in official data.”

Get all the details from the interactive Small Business Index dashboard.

More information

Media inquiries

Media contact details for QuickBooks in Canada can be found here on the Intuit website.

USA Index

The Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index is also published monthly in the US. Get the latest small business employment insights for the US here.

UK Index

The Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index is also published monthly in the UK, a few days after the US and Canada. Get the latest small business hiring insights for the UK on August 7.

About the Index

The Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index is a timely new measure of small business employment and hiring in the US, Canada, and the UK. The Index launched in March 2023 and is updated monthly. The Index uses purpose-built economic models to normalize anonymized QuickBooks data to reflect the general population of small businesses in each country; it is not a reflection of Intuit’s business. The Index was developed in collaboration with leading economist Professor Ufuk Akcigit and an international team of researchers and academics.


The Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index creates aggregated data outputs from a sample of anonymized QuickBooks Online Payroll customer records which are calibrated using statistical methods to create modeled results which better reflect the general population of small businesses in each country, as represented by published official statistics. Statistical adjustment ensures the Index truly reflects employment and job vacancy changes rather than trends in the QuickBooks customer base. 

Read more or download the full methodology here

Rounded values

Total and monthly changes in employment and job vacancies have been rounded to the nearest hundred. Monthly changes and growth rates are calculated before total employment or job vacancy values are rounded. Rates have been rounded to the nearest hundredth.

Seasonal adjustments

The Index’s data insights are seasonally adjusted to limit the effect of seasonal patterns in employment and hiring throughout the year, which lead to regular fluctuations in workforce growth and contraction.

Employment growth formula

Employment growth(t) = [Employment(t)-Employment(t-1)]/[0.5*Employment(t)+0.5*Employment(t-1)]

*Employment levels

The Index produces a monthly prediction of employment growth rates by country, region, and sector. In order to translate these growth rates into the number of jobs/vacancies gained or lost, the growth rates are multiplied by the prior month’s predicted employment levels, except during the months when official statistics are published. During those months, the latest official employment levels that have been reported are used in the calculation instead of the Index’s prior month’s predicted employment levels. As a result, the Index’s predicted total employment levels may at times differ from the predicted growth rates. Official statistics are published at different frequencies depending on the country ranging from monthly to quarterly.

Time series

The Index uses data going back to January 2015 in Canada and the US and to January 2018 in the UK. Published at the earliest opportunity every month, the Index shows the number of people employed by small businesses (in Canada and the US) or the number of job vacancies at small businesses (in the UK) in the previous month and how that number has changed since the month before. The Index helps to eliminate almost all of the time lags in official statistics by providing estimated projections of what those statistics will ultimately show when they are published.

Sample sizes

The total sample across all three countries is around 424,000 small businesses. The Canadian sample is almost 66,000 small businesses. The US sample is almost 333,000 small businesses. The UK sample is almost 25,000 small businesses. The minimum sample sizes for regions or sectors to be included in the Index are 800 small businesses in Canada, 1,000 small businesses in the US, and 200 small businesses in the UK. 

Target populations

In Canada, the target population is small businesses with one to 19 employees. In the US and UK, the Index targets the populations of small businesses with one to nine employees. The differences ensure the Index’s data insights are consistent with official statistics in each country, which are used for benchmarking during the calibration process. Timely data insights for these populations of small businesses are particularly valuable since most datasets fail to cover this portion of the economy well. Please note: Unlike in Canada and the US, the UK Index uses job vacancy data for calibration rather than employment data because official employment statistics are not currently available for small businesses on a monthly basis. 

External data sources

External data sources used alongside the samples of anonymized QuickBooks Online Payroll customer data include:

Geographic regions

Industry sectors


This content is for information purposes only and should not be considered legal, accounting or tax advice, or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. Additional information and exceptions may apply. Applicable laws may vary by region, state or locality. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit does not have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein. Accordingly, the information provided should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research. Intuit does not warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate nor that it is completely free of errors when published. Readers should verify statements before relying on them.

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