Review of Economic Statistics — January 11, 2019

Catalogue number: 36-26-0001

Issue number: 2019001

Release date: January 11, 2019

Review of Economic Statistics — January 11, 2019 - Transcript

(The Statistics Canada symbol and Canada wordmark appear on screen with the title: "Review of Economic Statistics — January 11, 2019")

(Background music plays while title card with the text "Review of Economic Statistics" appears on screen.)

Richard Evans: Welcome to the Review of Economics Statistics! I'm Richard Evans.

Guy Gellatly: I'm Guy Gellatly.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Richard Evans, Director General, Industry Statistics. Guy Gellatly, Principal Researcher.")

Richard Evans: Guy, welcome to 2019. The first video of the year. Nice to be back. The focus of this video and the next few ones of course will be on the end of 2018 and how the year ended. One of the key pieces fell into place just before the holidays started and that was the October monthly GDP. Now that clocked in at 0.3%. That's quite a strong rate, isn't it?

Guy Gellatly: Yeah, a solid gain to start that fourth quarter, Richard. Some key contributions to growth in October coming from manufacturing, from finance and insurance.

Richard Evans: So a good start to the quarter. Now, as far as general economic conditions are concerned, the year ended on a tumultuous note. Politically speaking, there was a U.S. government shutdown at the very end of December but prior to that, the dollar weakened, stock markets generally weakened and energy prices fell rather sharply. Now, we know that had a big impact on the international trade numbers—the export numbers in particular in October. So if we look at November's trade report, what stood out for you there?

Guy Gellatly: Richard, overall exports were down 2.9% in November on lower export prices and volumes. Those lower prices for crude oil exports were really a key factor again, in the November numbers. Crude oil exports were down 18% in November and most of that was really coming on lower prices. That does coincide again with those deep discounts for Canadian-produced crude that we began to see in October and that certainly we saw through much of November as well.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Export declined 2.9% in November, reflecting lower prices for crude oil.")

Richard Evans: Now, imports had also been edging down in recent months. What happened in November there, for imports?

Guy Gellatly: In November, imports were down 0.5%. Now, that marks the third consecutive monthly decline in the import numbers. Lower auto imports a key factor there in November, as they were in October. In fact, if you look at those auto import numbers kind of over the longer term, and they've really kind of lowered since the spring. That coincides with some of the lower demand conditions for autos that we've seen.

Richard Evans: At the tail end of the year.

Guy Gellatly: Yeah, really in recent months.

Richard Evans: And so lower—sharply lower—exports, lower imports. What was the effect on the trade balance?

Guy Gellatly: The merchandise trade deficit widening to 2.1 billion in November, and a lot of that is going to reflect sort of a smaller surplus in our energy exports. Or, sorry, in our energy balance.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Imports declined 0.5% in November as the merchandise trade deficit widened to $2.1 billion.")

Richard Evans: Very good. Now, moving on to employment. The Labour Force Survey is out for December. That means we have the full quarter. November was noteworthy for a very large gain in employment—in jobs, new jobs. How did the year end?

Guy Gellatly: Richard, employment holding steady in December.

Richard Evans: So no drop out?

Guy Gellatly: No change really in that headline employment number. The unemployment rate stayed at 5.6% for the second consecutive month at those, you know, 40-year record lows. So you look at the quarter as a whole for employment. Overall employment up about 115,000 and a lot of that, as you note, is going to reflect that very strong number that we had in November. Some of the key movements? Certainly if you look there, supporting growth in the quarter, higher full-time employment, certainly, and increases among core-aged workers— those of us in the 25-to-54 range. We had noted some of this in a previous edition and if you look at the employment rate for core-aged workers, the percentage of those that are actually working, and it's edged higher really through the second half of the year. You look at their unemployment rate—core-aged workers again—and it's been below the 5% mark really, throughout that fourth quarter.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Employment was little changed in December as the unemployment rate remained at 5.6%.")

Richard Evans: Well, thank you very much, Guy. To close out, I just want to loop back to the point I made earlier about the U.S. government shutdown. That shutdown is of course, affecting the U.S. government's capacity to produce statistics and that may, in turn, affect our own statement of imports and exports. The international trade program is done collaboratively with our American friends and to know more about this and to stay abreast of any impact this may have on the December trade report, please consult the StatCan blog. Thanks for joining us. Catch you soon.

(Text on screen below presenters: "")

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