Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index September 2023

Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index, September 2023

-1,300 jobs | -0.03%

In Canada in August, small businesses with 1 to 19 employees employed 1,300 fewer people nationally than in July. That’s a small monthly decrease of 0.03% to 5,222,200 jobs — compared to the previous official benchmark of 5,223,500 in July’s Labour Force Survey, published by Statistics Canada.*

The rate of decline was significantly slower in August than July, when small business employment fell by 0.42%. Find out which sectors and regions are growing, and which are not, below.

Small business employment grew in five sectors in August

Five of the 13 sectors covered by the Index had rising small business employment in August. The top three sectors which created the most jobs were:

  • Health care and social assistance (NAICS 62): added 1,200 jobs, with a monthly growth rate of 0.18%. This sector covers all health care services, including nursing, outpatient and residential care.

  • Business services (NAICS 55 & 56): added 400 jobs, with a monthly growth rate of 0.19% — the fastest across all 13 sectors in August. This sector includes administrative and support services businesses, waste management and remediation business, and holding companies.

  • Finance and real estate (NAICS 52 & 53): also added 400 jobs, with a monthly growth rate of 0.11%. This sector includes all small businesses involved in buying, selling, renting and leasing land, property and other assets. It also includes finance and insurance business.

There was less positive news for the agriculture, natural resources, and mining (NAICS 11 & 21) and transport and warehousing (NAICS 48-49 and 44-45) sectors. Both again experienced the fastest falls in August, as they did in July. The former lost 600 small business jobs nationally, a monthly decrease of 0.38%, while the latter lost 400 jobs, a monthly decrease of 0.20%. Construction (NAICS 23) was also down, with 900 fewer jobs — the largest drop across all sectors (a monthly decrease of 0.17%).

Québec had the fastest rise in small business employment and created the most small business jobs

In a reversal of the trend we saw in July, when all five regions had falling small business employment, in August employment was up in all but one Canadian region (Ontario, down by 0.09% with 4,600 fewer jobs).

Québec posted both the fastest monthly growth rate, at 0.13%, and the most new small business jobs, up by 1,400. The Prairie Provinces region (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta) was close behind, creating 1,300 jobs, with only a marginally slower growth rate (also at 0.13%).

Ufuk Akcigit, the Arnold C. Harberger Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, said: “In a bid to address inflationary pressures, the Bank of Canada took the step of raising the benchmark interest rate to its highest level in 22 years in July, reaching 5%. This decision, aimed at curbing inflation, has brought about tighter credit conditions. 

“These conditions, coupled with diminished consumer demand resulting from household incomes being absorbed by mortgage payments and rising prices, are contributing to an unfavorable business environment. This is evident in the subdued GDP forecasts compared to initial projections. In August, the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index — which has recorded negative growth in Canadian small business employment for all months except May this year — continued to reveal the downward trajectory of small business job growth.

“The Index shows the business and support services sector had the fastest growth, with a 0.19% increase in small business employment. Conversely, high temperatures, the dry weather conditions, and destructive effects of wildfires continued to cast a shadow over the agriculture, natural resources and mining sector. The Canadian oil and gas sector, for example, includes many small businesses. The impact of the wildfires on Canada's oil-sand producers led to production slowdowns, consequently affecting the broader landscape of other small business activities in the sector. These challenges were reflected by the data in the Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index, which showed a 0.38% decline in employment among firms with 1-19 employees within the agriculture, natural resources and mining sector. Similarly, the utilities sector also witnessed a decline of 0.29% in small business employment, underscoring the intricate interplay of external factors on the business landscape."

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 September 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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