MRO Magazine

Some Canadian manufacturing segments on the road to recovery

Ottawa, ON -- Manufacturing sales advanced 2.0% in October 2009 to $42.5 billion, reports Statistics Canada in...

Human Resources

December 21, 2009
By MRO Magazine


Ottawa, ON — Manufacturing sales advanced 2.0% in October 2009 to $42.5 billion, reports Statistics Canada in its latest Monthly Survey of Manufacturing. This was the fourth increase in five months. Even with these recent gains, manufacturing sales remained 16.6% below October 2008.


Most of the manufacturing gains in October were focused in two industries — aerospace product and parts, and petroleum and coal products.



Constant dollar manufacturing sales rose 1.2% in October, and have also increased in four of the past five months.


Sales advanced in 15 of the 21 manufacturing industries, accounting for about 72% of total sales.


In October, most of the gains were centred in the aerospace product and parts, and petroleum and coal product industries.


Aerospace product and parts production advanced 54.1% in October, following two months of steep declines. Production in this industry has been particularly volatile over the past year.


Petroleum and coal product sales rose 7.2% in October. Sales have generally been increasing in 2009 following a sizeable drop at the end of 2008. Rising prices in the industry have contributed to almost all of the sales increases since the start of 2009.


Motor vehicle sales increased 2.9% in October compared with September. This industry has reported higher sales in three of the past four months.


Of the industries reporting lower sales, fabricated metal products led the declines, losing 4.4% in October. Most of the weakness reflected a return to more normal sales levels after several major orders were completed in September.


Quebec manufacturers account for most gains in October


Sales in Quebec were up 7.3% in October, reaching the highest level since December 2008. Sales were driven by gains in the transportation equipment (+44.6%), petroleum and coal product (+19.2%), and primary metal (+11.7%) industries.


Excluding Quebec, manufacturing sales were basically flat, rising 0.2%.


Sales in the Prairie provinces were down 1.7% compared with September, mostly as a result of declines in Saskatchewan. Sales in Saskatchewan fell 12.6% in October after a similar sized gain in September. Manufacturers in the petroleum and coal industry as well as the food industry had been influenced by a later than normal harvest this year.


Manitoba (-0.9%) also reported weaker sales for October. Alberta, by contrast, posted a 0.5% sales gain as increases in the petroleum and chemical products industries outweighed losses in the food and fabricated metal industries.


Inventories level off in October


Inventory levels remained virtually unchanged (+0.1%) in October at $59.9 billion. Previously, inventories had declined every month since January 2009. Levels have decreased 12.5% since October 2008.


Non-durable goods industries were up, led by petroleum and coal products (+6.2%) and food manufacturing (+1.9%). Inventories decreased in 8 of 10 durable goods industries, led by a decline in the primary metal industry (-2.5%).


The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased to 1.41 in October, the fourth decline in five months. Most of the drop in October reflected rising sales, pushing the ratio to its lowest level since October 2008.


Unfilled orders fall for fourth straight month


The backlog of unfilled orders fell 3.4% in October to $51.8 billion. This was the fourth consecutive decline and the lowest level since April 2007. The decrease in unfilled orders was led by a 6.1% drop within the aerospace product and parts industry, which was in part due to a strengthening Canadian dollar. Unfilled orders in the fabricated metal product industry were down 3.8% compared with September.


Excluding the aerospace product and parts industry, unfilled orders declined 0.7% in October.


New orders decreased 1.8% in October to $40.7 billion, following a 7.9% gain in September. The decline in new orders was concentrated in the aerospace industry.


Data from the November Monthly Survey of Manufacturing will be released on January 20, 2010.