Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index July 2023

Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index, July 2023

-18,200 jobs | -0.35%

In Canada in June, small businesses with one to 19 employees employed 18,200 fewer people nationally. That’s a monthly decrease of 0.35% to 5,234,100 jobs compared to the previous official benchmark of 5,252,300 in May’s Labour Force Survey, published by Statistics Canada.*

This contrasts with last month’s Index, which showed a national increase in small business employment of 0.09%.

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The utilities sector stands out as the sole industry showing job growth.
Professor Ufuk Akcigit

Small business employment falls in all but one sector

Twelve out of the 13 sectors covered by the Index employed fewer people in June compared to May. The only sector adding jobs was Utilities (NAICS 22), with a monthly growth rate of 0.02%. Utilities include power generation and distribution as well as sewage, irrigation, and air conditioning.

The three sectors where small business employment fell fastest in June were:

  • Agriculture, natural resources, and mining (NAICS 11 & 21): with a drop of 0.81%, equivalent to 1,100 fewer jobs. Agriculture includes farming, forestry, fishing, and hunting. Natural resources and mining cover oil and gas extraction, raw materials, and associated support services.
  • Accommodation and food services (NAICS 72): with a drop of 0.61%, equivalent to 3,200 fewer jobs. This sector includes hotels, bars, coffee shops, and restaurants. 
  • Wholesale and retail trade (NAICS 41-42 and 44-45): with a drop of 0.58%, equivalent to 5,500 fewer jobs. Wholesalers typically sell in bulk to other businesses, including everything from farming and food products to machinery and motor vehicles. Retailers, on the other hand, typically sell finished products directly to consumers.

Québec sees fastest fall in small business employment

All five regions covered by the Index saw small business employment fall in June compared to May: Québec, British Columbia, Prairies, Atlantic, and Ontario. 

  • Québec had the fastest rate of decline, at 0.66%, equivalent to a loss of 6,900 jobs across the region. This is in marked contrast to the previous month, when Québec was the Canadian region showing the fastest growth. 
  • Ontario had the slowest rate of decline in June, at 0.17%. This is equivalent to 3,200 fewer jobs.

Ufuk Akcigit, the Arnold C. Harberger Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, said: “Surprisingly, high consumer demand has continued and core inflation remained high despite easing headline inflation. This led the Bank of Canada to raise its overnight rate to a 22-year high of 4.75% after holding it steady since the beginning of the year. In addition, a recent survey conducted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce confirms that small businesses continue to express concerns over high wages and rising costs. Moreover, the Canadian unemployment rate has experienced a notable increase, marking the first rise in nine months.

“These developments align with the findings from the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index, which captures an overall monthly decline of small business employment of 0.35%. Signs of negative small business growth are evident nationwide, spanning across various sectors and indicating increasingly restrictive conditions.

“Despite the progress that has been made in Canada to decrease the overall inflation rate from 8.1% in June 2022 to 4.4% in May 2023, a closer look at the consumption basket reveals that some industries continue to experience elevated inflation. Among them, for the period of May 2022 to May 2023, the food services industry experienced the highest yearly inflation rate of 8.3% and the accommodation industry ranked third, with an inflation rate of 4.7%. Concurrently, according to the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index, the accommodation and food services sector witnessed a notable decline in small business employment, of 0.61%. This implies that this small business sector has experienced dual pressures of high inflation and declines in employment, and further underscores the need for attention and support to mitigate the challenges they face.

“The utilities sector stands out as the sole industry showing job growth among small businesses with 19 or fewer workers. In contrast to others, this sector has demonstrated a mild increase of 0.02% growth in new employment opportunities.

“The Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index also showed a decline in small business employment across all regions in Canada. Québec experienced the most significant decline in employment, with a contraction of -0.66%. This observation aligns with the slight increase in Québec's unemployment rate, which rose to 4%. Conversely, Ontario exhibited the mildest decline in employment, with a decrease of -0.17%.

“The various indicators discussed collectively highlight the challenges encountered by the labour market for small businesses in Canada. In this context, the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index is an invaluable tool for monitoring these challenges and developing potential strategies to address the employment situation across the country. By leveraging this Index, policymakers, economists, and other stakeholders can gain insights into the dynamics of the small business labour market and work towards fostering a more favourable environment for growth and employment opportunities.”

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 July 10.

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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