Review of Economic Statistics — May 3, 2019

Catalogue number: 36-26-0001

Issue number: 2019008

Release date: May 3, 2019

Review of Economic Statistics — May 3, 2019 - Transcript

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

Guy Gellatly: And I'm Guy Gellatly. So, let's talk about February. In January, we saw that we got off to a strong start. The GDP grew 0.3%, but I understand that things sort of pulled back a little in February.

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

Guy Gellatly: Richard, the economy contracted in February—real gross domestic product was down 0.1%. A couple of factors behind that decline: one is output continued to decline in mining and oil and gas extraction, so if you look at that as a group, it's been down now for six months in a row. And lower mining output, in particular, was a factor in February. And that was fairly broad-based and it reflects some lower international demand for those commodities.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Real GDP declined 0.1% in February, after advancing 0.3% in January.")

Richard Evans: I understand manufacturing was also down.

Guy Gellatly: Yeah, manufacturing was down. That follows a very strong number that we had to start the year off in January, but you did have some pullback in the February report, both for durables and non-durables.

Richard Evans: So that's goods—sort of a negative message out of goods. What about services? I understand they were down too.

Guy Gellatly: Well, in terms of the decline—again, I'll go to transportation industries—we had some lower numbers there and a lot of that really coming on lower rail transportation. And there were some factors there. If you remember back to February, we had some extreme weather, some very, very cold conditions, some heavy snowfall affecting those rail transport numbers, as well as a derailment out west.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Decline in mining and oil and gas extraction, rail transportation, and manufacturing contributed to lower output in February.")

Richard Evans: Yeah, that didn't help. All right. And what else there?

Guy Gellatly: On the services? A decline in finance, and that basically reflects a lower volume of trading activity in the month.

Richard Evans: OK. So that's the negative side. What about on the up side?

Guy Gellatly: So, February, again, we talked a little bit about that weather, so you had a gain in utilities. You tend to see stronger utilities in…

Richard Evans: So that's interesting. The weather can hold back production in some industries, but actually drive production in other industries.

Guy Gellatly: That's right.

Richard Evans: For example, utilities, electricity generation.

Guy Gellatly: That's exactly right. Also had a slight gain in construction, and that comes after that solid number that we had at the start of the year for construction. But you need some trend context there.

Guy Gellatly: Basically, we had that long decline in construction activity basically stretching from June through to December of last year—seven monthly declines.

Richard Evans: A long decline.

Guy Gellatly: So we're starting to see some stronger numbers in construction to start the year off now in 2019, the first couple of months.

Richard Evans: OK, super. Anything else to say about the monthly?

Guy Gellatly: We had increases in public sector and increases in retail as well.

Richard Evans: OK, that's noteworthy. All right, if we move on now to the annual picture, and the picture by province and territory. What were the highlights there?

Guy Gellatly: Well, the economy grew in nine provinces and all the territories in 2018, the exception there being Newfoundland and Labrador, where a large decline in engineering construction was a factor.

Richard Evans: Everywhere else was up? Among the provinces, economic growth was stronger than the national average in Prince Edward Island, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. And actually, if you look at the three provinces with the strongest growth rates—P.E.I., Quebec and B.C.—you get strong support from goods production in each of those provinces. Basically, the growth in goods output there outpacing what you saw on the services side.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Among the provinces, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and British Columbia posted the strongest growth in real GDP in 2018.")

Richard Evans: Excellent, very insightful. Thank you very much, Guy. Just to close out, a couple of notes. We have a new publication out, called "Recent developments in the Canadian economy," the spring 2019 issue. So that provides a compendium of exactly the kind of stuff we've been talking about here, but a lengthier treatment and with more detail. So please have a look at that. And if you enjoyed this video, hit that "like" button and do leave a comment. Thank you.

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