Economic activity rose for the seventh consecutive month in November, supported by increases in mining, oil sands extraction, and factory output. Real gross domestic product increased 0.7%, following the 0.4% gain in October. Total economic activity in November was 3.5% below pre-COVID levels.

Manufacturing output increased for the sixth time in seven months, and was about 3% below levels observed prior to the pandemic.

Retail trade strengthened in November, and was 3.5% above levels reported in February. At the same time, activity among real estate agents and brokers declined for the second consecutive month after reaching a peak in September. Nonetheless, activity among agents and brokers was almost 30% above February levels.

Statistics Canada also released an advance estimate of real GDP for December, with preliminary information pointing to a 0.3% increase.

November’s payroll employment report was released on January 28th. Payroll employment fell as public health measures tightened in many areas of the country. Nationally, the number of employees receiving pay or benefits from their employer declined by nearly 80,000, the first decrease since May. Losses were concentrated in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba.

Payrolls fell in industries that were directly affected by tighter public health measures. Employment in accommodation and food services was down by over 48,000, while payrolls in arts, entertainment and recreation services declined by almost 9,000. Payrolls in both these industries were about 30% below levels observed prior to the pandemic.

All of the headline losses in November reflected lower employment among hourly paid workers, who have been relatively hard hit by the pandemic. The number of hourly paid workers receiving pay or benefits from their employer was 8.7% below pre-COVID levels, with cumulative losses since February totalling almost 850,000. Total payroll employment in November was 6.6% below pre-COVID levels, with net losses since February totalling over 1.1 million.

Data on job vacancies in November were also released on January 28th. Canadian employers were actively recruiting for an estimated 523,000 positions (not seasonally adjusted) as they continued to navigate public health measures and the threat of COVID-19. More than one-fifth of all vacancies were in the health care and social assistance sector. Canada’s job vacancy rate, which represents vacant positions as a proportion of all positions (vacant and occupied) was 3.3% in November.

On January 27th, Statistics Canada reported railway traffic for November, when Canadian railways carried 32.1 million tonnes of freight, an increase of 6.0% compared with November 2019. This marked the first year-over-year increase since March, with overall tonnage in November just below the peak reached in 2018. However, with a labour dispute affecting rail transport during November 2019, it is not possible to attribute all of the year-over-year growth to a post-pandemic recovery. In terms of commodities, loadings of agricultural and food products have increased while energy-related products continue to experience declines.

On January 28th, the agency released data on urban transit for November, when ridership was 64.2% (or 105.8 million trips) below November 2019 levels. This was the eighth consecutive month of steep year-over-year declines, each less severe, signaling a slow recovery until an abrupt stop in October.

Following steady passenger gains during the summer, the recovery in transit stalled for the second straight month, edging down in November. This coincides with stricter COVID-related restrictions in some areas of the country.

Source: Statistics Canada