Review of Economic Statistics — April 5, 2019

Catalogue number: 36-26-0001

Issue number: 2019007

Release date: April 5, 2019

Review of Economic Statistics — April 5, 2019 - Transcript

(The Statistics Canada symbol and Canada wordmark appear on screen with the title: "Review of Economic Statistics — April 5, 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, we have some great reports that are kind of bounding the first quarter of 2019. We have the January report for GDP, and we have the March report for the Labour Force Survey. Let's get right in there. GDP at the tail end of 2018 had weakened. That was, I think, very notable. I'm very curious to know how 2019 started.

Guy Gellatly: Richard, the economy grew 0.3% in January, offsetting those consecutive monthly declines that we had in November and December. Gains in January were actually fairly widespread. It was led by higher production in the goods sector—that was up 0.6%—while output in services rose 0.2%.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Real GDP grew 0.3% in January, following two consectutive monthly declines.")

Richard Evans: So it sounds like primarily a goods story. Let's dig into goods. What were the strongest industries there?

Guy Gellatly: Well, a couple of factors there.

One: we had broad-based increases in manufacturing output, and that comes after those weaker numbers in manufacturing that we saw at the tail end of last year. So, in terms of January, we had increases in food, in petroleum and in chemical manufacturing, all supporting the increase there.

Richard Evans: I heard construction was part of this story, which stood out for me because there had been a lot of weakness at the tail end of 2018 as well.

Guy Gellatly: It's a major part of the story, actually. We had increases—stronger construction numbers to start the year—and that comes after those seven consecutive monthly declines in the construction series if you go all the way back to June of 2018. To start the year off, we had increases in residential construction, non-residential construction and engineering construction.

Richard Evans: All right, so that was the upward lift. What stood out on the down side?

Guy Gellatly: We can talk oil and gas extraction. You'll recall those oil production limits in Alberta taking effect in January, and that coincided with some lower numbers for oil and gas, in particular in terms of oilsands extraction.

Richard Evans: Okay, so a strong GDP start to the year. Construction and manufacturing up, oil and gas extraction down. Alright, let's move on to the employment report. The Labour Force Survey for March is out. We'd seen strong gains in January, February. Did those gains hold?

(Text on screen below presenters: "Widespread gains in manufacturing and construction supported growth in January, partly offset by lower oil and gas extraction.")

Guy Gellatly: They held. Interestingly, a fairly quiet month in terms of the March labour force report. Headline employment basically unchanged in the month, and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.8%. We basically didn't have any change in full-time employment or in the number of private sector employees. One area where we did see some decline was in core-aged workers, so those in the 25-to-54 age range.

Richard Evans: What did the quarter look like as a whole when you sum those three months?

Guy Gellatly: A fairly solid quarter. Employment up about 100,000 in the first quarter of 2019, a lot of that led by increases in full-time work and among private sector employees.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Employment was little changed in March, as the unemploment rate held steady at 5.8%.")

Richard Evans: Good, thank you for that. To close out, I thought we'd talk about the international trade report. January data are out. February data are coming April 17. Tell us a little about the January data.

Guy Gellatly: Well, we had some stronger export numbers in January, and a lot of that really comes on increases in our crude oil export prices. We had a reduction, or a slight narrowing, in the merchandise trade deficit in the month as well.

Richard Evans: Excellent. Thank you very much, Guy, and thank you for joining us. See you next time.

(Text on screen below presenters: "")

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