Economic activity down in May 2015

Québec, August 27, 2015 – Québec’s real gross domestic product (GDP) at basic prices decreased 0.5% in May after dropping 0.3% in April and 0.1% in March. In Canada, GDP was down 0.2% in May. The goods-producing industries were behind Québec’s decline. They recorded a 1.9% drop, while output in services-producing industries increased by 0.1%. GDP for the first five months of 2015 was up 1.1% compared with the same months in 2014. In Canada, GDP grew by 1.5%.

The GDP decline recorded in May was essentially due to the losses observed in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction as well as in utilities and manufacturing. In addition, 13 of the 20 major sectors of the Québec economy saw their output level decline in May.

Decline in the production of goods

For the fourth consecutive month, goods-producing industries recorded losses (-1.9% in May, -1.2% in April, -0.7% in March and -0.3% in February). Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction (-8.3%), utilities (-5.3%) and manufacturing (-1.8%) were down. However, output increased in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (+2.7%) and construction (+0.7%).

Rise in service production

Service output rose 0.1% in May following zero growth in April and a 0.1% increase in March. There were gains in transportation and warehousing (+1.6%), real estate and rental and leasing (+0.5%), professional, scientific and technical services (+0.5%), and accommodation and food services (+1.5%). On the other hand, output declined in wholesale trade (-0.3%), retail trade (-0.3%), finance and insurance (-0.3%), and public administration (-0.3%).

In the first five months of 2015, services-producing industries grew by 1.5%, while goods-producing industries were up 0.1% compared with the same period in 2014. In Canada, the growth rates were +2.3% for services-producing industries and -0.4% for goods-producing industries.

Slowdown in the manufacturing sector

Output in the manufacturing sector declined 1.8% in May following zero growth in April and a 0.9% increase in March. This drop was due to a 3.2% decrease observed in durable goods manufacturing. Non-durable goods manufacturing increased by 0.1%.

The durable goods manufacturing industries that were most affected by the decline include metal product manufacturing, machinery manufacturing, furniture and related product manufacturing, as well as miscellaneous manufacturing. As for industries that manufacture non-durable goods, the increase was essentially due to chemical manufacturing and plastics and rubber products manufacturing.

Upturn in the construction industry

Output in the construction industry rose by 0.7% in May, following three consecutive declines (-2.9% in April, -1.3% in March and -1.6% in February). The growth registered in May was mainly due to gains in residential construction and in engineering construction. Regarding residential construction, an increase in row house construction and a rebound in residential renovation explain the result.

Decrease in both wholesale and retail trade

Output in wholesale trade edged down 0.3% in May following a 0.8% increase in April and a 0.2% drop in March. The losses recorded by personal and household goods wholesaler-distributors (-1.1%) and motor vehicle and parts wholesaler-distributors (-4.4%) were behind the decrease registered in May.

Output in retail trade declined 0.3% in May following a 0.9% drop in April and a 0.6% increase in March. The drop in May was mostly attributable to the losses recorded by motor vehicle and parts dealers (-1.4%), electronics and appliance stores (-2.8%), food and beverage stores (-1.1%), and health and personal care stores (-1.2%).

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