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Monthly Survey of Manufacturing, November 2014

Released: 2015-01-20

Manufacturing sales declined 1.4% in November to $51.5 billion, reflecting lower sales of motor vehicles, chemicals, primary metals and food. This was the third decrease in four months. Year-to-date sales in 2014, however, were 5.2% higher than those in the first 11 months of 2013.

Sales declined in 16 of 21 industries, representing more than 80% of total Canadian manufacturing. Constant dollar sales fell 1.4%, indicating that a lower volume of manufactured goods was sold.

Motor vehicle and chemical sales decline

Sales of motor vehicles fell 5.9% in November to $4.6 billion, as a result of widespread decreases. The decline offset almost all of the gains that occurred in the previous two months. Sales were 10.0% lower than the two-year high reached in July 2014.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Manufacturing sales decline - Description and data table
Manufacturing sales decline

Chart 1: Manufacturing sales decline - Description and data table

Chemical manufacturers reported a 3.6% decrease in sales in November. The declines reflected lower sales in all sub-industries of chemical manufacturing. This was the fourth consecutive monthly decline for sales of chemicals.

Sales in November were down 3.0% in the primary metal industry following a 5.4% drop in October. In both months, lower volumes were the primary cause of the sales decline. Despite the drop, sales in the industry remained at just over $4 billion in November. Monthly sales of primary metals have been over $4 billion since June 2014, when they reached that level for the first time in nearly three years.

The food manufacturing industry posted a 1.3% decrease in sales following three months of gains. Widespread reductions in sales were reported by food manufacturers.

Partially offsetting the declines was a 9.1% increase in the production of aerospace products and parts. Gains were widespread in the aerospace industry and were partly due to the decrease in the value of the Canadian dollar. As most inventories held by aerospace manufacturers are valued in US dollars, the decline in the value of the Canadian dollar increased the value of those inventories. Production in the industry is measured as the value of sales plus the change in the value of goods-in-process and finished product inventories held by manufacturers. As a result, the depreciation of the Canadian dollar directly contributed to the production increase in the aerospace industry.

Lower sales in Ontario and Quebec

Sales in Ontario fell 2.1% to $23.7 billion as 18 of 21 manufacturing industries, representing nearly 90% of the province's manufacturing sector, posted lower sales. This was the third decline in four months. Sales of motor vehicles and chemicals were down 5.9% and 6.1% respectively. Ontario manufacturing sales in the first 11 months of 2014 were 5.8% higher than in the first 11 months of 2013.

Quebec manufacturers reported a 2.2% sales decrease in November, also the third decline in four months. The largest decreases in sales occurred in the petroleum and coal product and primary metals industries. Despite the decline, monthly sales of manufactured goods in Quebec have been over $12 billion in each of the past six months, a level that has not been sustained since the six-month period immediately preceding the 2008-2009 recession.

Sales in Alberta declined 3.8%, reflecting lower sales of petroleum and coal products. Sales in the province were at their lowest level since January 2014. The decline was largely due to a drop in prices in the petroleum and coal product industry.

Partially offsetting the declines was a 16.6% increase in sales in New Brunswick, which reflected gains in non-durable goods.

Inventories edge down

Manufacturers' inventories edged down 0.1% in November following a 0.4% increase in October. A decline in primary metal industry inventories was partially offset by a rise in motor vehicle and food stocks.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Inventories edge down - Description and data table
Inventories edge down

Chart 2: Inventories edge down - Description and data table

The inventory-to-sales ratio rose to 1.38 in November from 1.36 in October. The inventory-to-sales ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Chart 3  Chart 3: The inventory-to-sales ratio rises - Description and data table
The inventory-to-sales ratio rises

Chart 3: The inventory-to-sales ratio rises - Description and data table

Unfilled orders edge up

Unfilled orders edged up 0.2% in November to $91.1 billion, the fourth increase in five months. Unfilled orders in the machinery industry rose 1.7%, reflecting higher reported orders in two sub-industries: engine, turbine and power transmission equipment; and agricultural, construction and mining machinery. Unfilled orders in the machinery industry were at their highest level since July 2013. These increases were largely offset by a decline in unfilled orders in the fabricated metal product and transportation equipment industries.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Unfilled orders edge up - Description and data table
Unfilled orders edge up

Chart 4: Unfilled orders edge up - Description and data table

New orders fell 1.7% in November as a result of a 6.2% drop in the transportation equipment industry.

  Note to readers

Monthly data in this release are seasonally adjusted and are expressed in current dollars unless otherwise specified. For more information on seasonal adjustment, please refer to the following document: Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

With this release, data for the previous three months have been revised.

The analytical article "Manufacturing at a Glance: Oil and gas field machinery manufacturing" is now available as part of The Daily published on December 4, 2014.

Non-durable goods industries include food, beverage and tobacco products, textile mills, textile product mills, clothing, leather and allied products, paper, printing and related support activities, petroleum and coal products, chemicals, and plastics and rubber products.

Durable goods industries include wood products, non-metallic mineral products, primary metal, fabricated metal products, machinery, computer and electronic products, electrical equipment, appliances and components, transportation equipment, furniture and related products and miscellaneous manufacturing.

Production-based industries

For the aerospace industry and shipbuilding industries, the value of production is used instead of sales of goods manufactured. This value is calculated by adjusting monthly sales of goods manufactured by the monthly change in inventories of goods in process and finished products manufactured.

Unfilled orders are a stock of orders that will contribute to future sales assuming that the orders are not cancelled.

New orders are those received whether sold in the current month or not. New orders are measured as the sum of sales for the current month plus the change in unfilled orders from the previous month to the current month.

Manufacturers reporting in US dollars

Some Canadian manufacturers report sales, inventories and unfilled orders in US dollars. These data are then converted to Canadian dollars as part of the data production cycle.

For sales, based on the assumption that they occur throughout the month, the average monthly exchange rate for the reference month (noon spot rate) established by the Bank of Canada is used for the conversion. The monthly average exchange rate is available in CANSIM table 176-0064.

Inventories and unfilled orders are reported at the end of the reference period. Therefore, for these variables, the noon spot exchange rate on the last working day of the month is used for the conversion. The noon spot exchange rate is available in CANSIM table 176-0067. Because of exchange rate fluctuations, the monthly average exchange rate can differ substantially from the exchange rate on the last working day of the month.

Data from the December 2014 Monthly Survey of Manufacturing will be released on February 13, 2015.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Jeff Paul (613-951-7328;, Manufacturing and Wholesale Trade Division.

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