Ottawa, ON — Real gross domestic product edged down 0.1% in February 2009, according to the latest survey from Statistics Canada. Economic activity has declined by 2.4% since October 2008.
A 19% rise in motor vehicle and associated parts manufacturing in February was not enough to outweigh declines in construction and in mining activities (excluding oil and gas). Wholesale and retail trade and several major groups of the manufacturing sector also declined. Conversely, oil and gas extraction and some tourism-related industries advanced. The finance and insurance sector as well as the public sector were unchanged.
Significant increase in motor vehicle manufacturing
The output of the manufacturing sector edged up 0.1% in February as production of motor vehicles and associated parts rose 19%. Excluding motor vehicle and parts production, the manufacturing sector dropped 0.8%.
Of the 21 major manufacturing groups, 13 contracted. Notable declines were posted in wood products, electric equipment, appliance and component, and plastics and rubber products manufacturing. Paper and primary metal products manufacturing increased.
Construction activity (-2.1%) fell for a fourth consecutive month in February. All three components of construction (residential, non-residential and engineering and repair work) decreased.
Residential building construction retreated the most (-5.7%) with all categories of dwellings declining, a reflection of weak housing starts in recent months. Alterations and improvements work however increased in February. Non-residential construction fell 0.6%. The drops in commercial and industrial building construction eclipsed the rise in institutional buildings.
The home resale market picked up in February. As a result, the output of real estate agents and brokers increased 8.1%. Despite this rebound, the industry’s output was still hovering around 1998 levels.
Energy sector output remains unchanged
The output of the energy sector remained unchanged in February, with very mixed results among the components. Oil and gas extraction rose, with crude petroleum increasing and natural gas remaining unchanged. Electricity generation and natural gas distribution fell, partly reflecting a warmer than usual month. Support activities for mining and oil and gas extraction dropped, with a significant decrease in rigging activities.
The output of the mining sector excluding oil and gas extraction dropped 6.4%, as the output of both metal ore and non-metal mines fell. Potash mines, along with copper, nickel, lead and zinc ore mines, continued to be affected by reduced world demand, leading some mines to temporarily shut down during the month.
Wholesale trade slips
The volume of activities in wholesaling industries slipped 0.2% in February. The main declines were in the wholesaling of other products (which include agricultural, chemical, recycled material and paper products), food, beverage and tobacco products, and petroleum products. The wholesaling of automotive products and of personal and household goods increased.
Retail trade edges down
Value added in retail trade edged down 0.1% in February. The decline in the volume of activities at new car dealers and furniture stores outpaced the rise recorded at home centres and hardware stores, and beer, wine and liquor stores.
The finance and insurance sector remains unchanged
The finance and insurance sector was unchanged in February. Mutual fund sales, along with banking activities related to residential mortgages and short-term business loans, declined. Stock brokerage activities posted a modest gain, on the strength of a higher volume of trading in the securities markets.
An increase in overnight visitors to Canada contributed to a rise in accommodation and food services. Activities in urban transit transportation and in universities increased, largely because of the end of labour disputes in Ontario.
The February 2009 issue of Gross Domestic Product by Industry, Vol. 23, no. 2 (15-001-XWE, free), is now available from the Publications module of the Statistics Canada website at www.statcan.gc.ca. Data on gross domestic product by industry for March 2009 will be released on June 1.