Ottawa, ON — Real gross domestic product decreased 0.3% in May 2011, after no change in April and a 0.3% increase in March, according to the latest survey of GDP by industry from Statistics Canada. The mining, oil and gas extraction sector was the main source of the decline in May. Manufacturing and construction also fell.
Wholesale and retail trade, the public sector, utilities as well as the finance and insurance sector increased. Transportation services were unchanged.
Weather and maintenance hamper energy production
After two consecutive monthly increases, mining, oil and gas extraction fell 5.3% in May. Oil and gas extraction decreased by 4.2% as wildfires in Northern Alberta as well as maintenance shutdowns resulted in reduced production at oil fields. Support activities for mining, oil and gas extraction contracted as drilling and rigging activities were down partly as a result of unfavourable weather. Output of copper, nickel, lead and zinc mines declined 9.6%, following a 6.1% gain in April.
Manufacturing declined 0.4% in May, with production of non-durable goods decreasing 1.4% while the output of durable goods increased 0.4%. Output at refineries was significantly reduced, mostly as a result of maintenance shutdowns at a number of facilities across the country. Manufacturing of food and plastic products also declined.
Motor vehicles and parts production decreased 0.5% in May, following a more pronounced decline in April caused mainly by a supply disruption as a consequence of the tsunami in Japan. Conversely, manufacturing of computer and electronic products (+5.1%), chemicals (+2.3%) as well as machinery (+1.2%) was up.
Construction activity was down 0.3% in May. A decline in engineering and repair work and non-residential building construction outweighed an increase in residential building construction.
Growth in wholesale and in retail trade
Wholesale trade advanced 1.0% in May, with the growth concentrated in machinery and equipment as well as agricultural supplies. Wholesaling of petroleum products and of motor vehicles was down.
Retail trade was up 0.2% as a result of increased activity at building material and garden equipment stores and general merchandise stores. Conversely, activity at food and beverage stores and new car dealers was down.
Increase in the public sector
Output in all three components of the public sector (education, health and public administration) increased, with a notable advance in the federal government as a result of the 2011 Census.
The finance and insurance sector edged up 0.1% in May. Growth in the credit intermediation and securities brokerage industries was partially offset by a decline in the insurance sector.
While transportation services overall were unchanged, the declines in mining and in manufacturing output contributed to a reduction in rail transportation. Air transportation was also down.