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Total manufacturing sales in Canada rose 1 percent to C$614.4 billion (US$457.7 billion) in 2016, following a 1.7 percent decline in 2015, according to Statistics Canada. Higher sales in the transportation equipment and food industries offset declines in the petroleum and coal product industries.
Manufacturing sales reached a record high C$53.5 billion (US$39.9 billion) in December 2016, largely attributable to a higher volume of goods sold. The previous record of C$53.1 billion (US$39.6 billion) was set in July 2008, prior to the economic downturn.
Constant dollar manufacturing sales increased 1.3 percent in 2016, indicating a higher volume of goods sold. Prices in the manufacturing sector declined 0.2 percent in 2016, according to the Industrial Product Price Index.
Sales of durable goods rose for the third consecutive year, up 2 percent to C$328.5 billion (US$244.7 billion) in 2016. The increase in 2016 was led by the transportation equipment industry and the wood product industry.
Sales of durable goods declined 7.8 percent from January to March and then increased 5.2 percent from March to December.
Following a 6.1 percent decline in 2015, sales of non-durable goods edged down 0.1 percent to C$285.9 billion (US$213 billion) in 2016. The largest contributors to the sales changes in non-durable goods were food manufacturing and petroleum and coal manufacturing.
Sales of non-durable goods, which had been trending downward since July 2014, hit a low of C$22.7 billion (US$16.9 billion) in February 2016. Sales then grew 11.8 percent from February to December. The rebound in total manufacturing sales since February 2016 reflected, to a larger extent, gains in non-durable goods manufacturing.
In 2016, 10 of 21 industries, representing 68.8 percent of the manufacturing sector, reported higher sales.
The transportation equipment industry posted the most important gain in 2016, up 5.8 percent to C$130 billion (US$96.9 billion) in 2016. Motor vehicle manufacturing sales rose 11.8 percent from 2015 to C$69.5 billion (US$51.8 billion) in 2016. In January 2016, recently completed retooling of automotive plants, along with the introduction of more expensive production models, brought motor vehicle manufacturing sales to their highest level since March 2000.
Food manufacturing sales rose for the ninth consecutive year, up 5.3 percent to C$101.1 billion (US$75.3 billion) in 2016. Since the current series began in 1992, food manufacturing sales have risen every year except 2005 (-0.8 percent) and 2007 (-0.1 percent).
Wood manufacturing sales rose for the fifth consecutive year, up 10.8 percent to C$28.8 billion (US$21.5 billion).
Sales in the petroleum and coal product industry, which began trending downward in July 2014, hit their lowest point in February 2016 at C$3.4 billion (US$2.5 billion). Over this period, sales in the industry declined by 52.3 percent.
However, sales in the petroleum and coal product industry are closely related to oil prices, and with the rebound in prices in 2016, sales increased most months from March through December. Sales in the petroleum and coal product industry reached C$5.2 billion (US$3.9 billion) in December, their highest level since July 2015 – C$5.3 billion (US$3.9 billion).
Machinery manufacturing sales were down for the second straight year, declining 7.1 percent to C$32 billion (US$23.8 billion) in 2016. Most of the decrease was attributable to lower mining and oil and gas field machinery sales in Alberta.
Manufacturing sales were up in six provinces in 2016, led by Ontario and British Columbia. Sales edged down in Quebec, while Alberta posted the largest decline.
In Ontario, manufacturing sales rose 4 percent to C$300.8 billion (US$224.1 billion) in 2016. The gain was mostly attributable to the transportation equipment industry, where sales rose 9.6 percent to C$105.6 billion (US$78.7 billion).
The largest contributors to the sales changes in non-durable goods were food manufacturing, up 5.3 percent to C$40.6 billion (US$30.2 billion), and petroleum and coal manufacturing, down 14.7 percent to C$12.7 billion (US$9.5 billion).
The transportation equipment industry accounted for 35.1 percent of manufacturing sales in Ontario, while Ontario accounted for 49 percent of total manufacturing sales in Canada in 2016.
Manufacturing sales in British Columbia rose for the seventh straight year, up 4.2 percent to C$45.9 billion (US$34.2 billion) in 2016. The increase in 2016 was led by the wood product (+10.3 percent to C$9.5 billion (US$7.1 billion)) and the primary metal (+33 percent to C$3.4 billion (US$2.5 billion)) industries.
In Quebec, manufacturing sales edged down 0.5 percent to C$142.6 billion (US$106.2 billion). Higher sales in the food manufacturing industry, up 5.6 percent to C$23.1 billion (US$17.2 billion), did not offset declines in the transportation equipment industry, down 10.7 percent to C$17.3 billion (US$12.9 billion).
In Alberta, manufacturing sales fell 8.5 percent to C$62.7 billion (US$46.7 billion) in 2016. Sales were down in the machinery (-40.9 percent to C$3.6 billion (US$2.7 billion)), petroleum and coal product (-12 percent to C$12.8 billion (US$9.5 billion)) and fabricated metal (-18.7 percent to C$4.3 billion (US$3.2 billion)) industries. Excluding these industries, sales in Alberta were down 1.4 percent in 2016.
Chemical manufacturing was one of the few industries in Alberta with higher sales in 2016, up 6.3 percent to C$13.2 billion (US$9.8 billion), surpassing petroleum and coal sales in the province for the first time since 2004.
The wildfires in Alberta in May forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray and burnt an area about the size of Prince Edward Island. Sales in the petroleum and coal manufacturing industry were down 11.7 percent in May, but this was expected as maintenance work was underway at some refineries.
There was a 3.8 percent draw down of petroleum and coal inventories at the national level in May. Overall, however, the effects of the wildfire on manufacturing appear to have been slight and temporary.
The average monthly inventory levels declined 1.5 percent to C$70 billion (US$52.2 billion) in 2016. Following five consecutive annual increases, average annual inventory levels were at a record high in 2015.
Monthly inventories reached a low in April 2016, rebounded in the summer and then fell towards the end of the year. The decline at the beginning of the year was mostly attributable to lower inventories in the transportation equipment industry.
Constant dollar monthly average inventories fell 1.6 percent to C$63.7 billion (US$47.5 billion) in 2016. Constant dollar or volumes of inventories held declined every month in 2016 except January and July.
The annual average inventory-to-sales ratio declined from 1.40 in 2015 to 1.37 in 2016.
After rebounding in February following a low in January, the inventory-to-sales ratio trended downward throughout the year. The decrease was particularly steep at the end of the year, attributable to sales gains in November and December and the continuing decline in inventory levels.
Unfilled orders decreased 4.1 percent from December 2015 to C$87.7 billion (US$65.3 billion) in December 2016. A large portion of unfilled orders was in the aerospace products and parts industry, which tend to be held in US dollars.
Despite the US dollar rising from its April low to a peak in November, monthly unfilled orders tended to decline throughout the year. Excluding the aerospace industry, unfilled order declined 6.2 percent from December 2015 to C$38.4 billion (US$28.6 billion) in December 2016.
Constant dollar unfilled orders declined 3.4 percent from December 2015 to C$69.3 billion (US$51.6 billion) in December 2016.
New orders in constant dollars increased 6.8 percent from December 2015 to C$46 billion (US$34.3 billion) in December 2016.
Employment in manufacturing decreased 1 percent to 1.7 million workers in 2016, following a slight gain in 2015. Full-time work accounted for 95.5 percent of manufacturing jobs, while 28.1 percent of the workforce were women.
Provincially, Ontario (+0.9 percent) reported the largest employment gain, while Alberta (-17.4 percent) reported the largest loss.
Nationally, nearly 1 in 10 workers were in the manufacturing sector in 2016, a level relatively unchanged since 2009.