Economic activity down in May 2017

Québec, August 29, 2017. – Québec’s real gross domestic product (GDP) at basic prices dropped 0.4% in May 2017, following a 0.3% increase in April. In Canada, GDP rose 0.6% in May. The goods-producing industries were behind Québec’s decline, as they recorded a 1.8% drop. Meanwhile, service-producing industries increased their output level by 0.1%. GDP for the first five months of 2017 was up 2.8% compared with the same months of 2016. In Canada, the corresponding rate was 3.2%.

The GDP decline in May was essentially due to a drop in the construction sector. Output also decreased in other industry sectors in May. In total, 11 out of the 20 major industry sectors saw their output levels drop in May.

Decline in goods-producing industries

In May 2017, goods-producing industries registered a 1.8% drop. Output was down in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction (-5.3%), utilities (-1.1%), as well as in the construction sector (-6.8%). On the other hand, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (+1.9%) and manufacturing (+0.2%) were up.

Rise in service output

Service output grew by 0.1% in May, following increases of 0.4% in April and 0.1% in March. Several sectors experienced growth in May, including wholesale trade (+1.1%), finance and insurance (+0.8%), educational services (+0.6%), and public administration (+0.4%). Conversely, output was down in transportation and warehousing (-1.0%), information and cultural industries (-0.7%), and arts, entertainment and recreation (-2.6%).

In the first five months of 2017, service-producing industries grew by 3.0%, while goods-producing industries were up 2.3% compared with the same period in 2016.

Manufacturing sector up

Output in the manufacturing sector was up 0.2% in May. This increase was attributable to a 0.7% gain in the durable goods manufacturing sector. However, non-durable goods manufacturing declined by 0.4%.

The growth in durable goods manufacturing was essentially due to the wood product manufacturing, primary metal manufacturing, and electrical equipment, appliance and component manufacturing subsectors. As for the decline in non-durable goods manufacturing, it was mainly attributable to the food manufacturing, paper manufacturing, and chemical manufacturing subsectors. Nine out of 19 manufacturing industries posted growth in May.

Downturn in the construction industry

Construction industry output was down 6.8% in May, following a drop of 0.9% in April. The construction workers’ strike in the last week of May strongly contributed to the drop in output in the sectors of residential construction, non-residential building construction, and engineering construction. Regarding residential construction, a decline was observed in the new housing construction subsector (single and double houses and apartments).

Wholesale trade rises and retail trade drops

Wholesale trade output was up 1.1% in May, following two consecutive increases (+0.6% in April and +0.8% in March). The gains registered by machinery, equipment and supplies wholesaler-distributors (+4.4%) largely contributed to the increase in May.

Retail trade output was down 0.4% in May, after rising 0.5% in April. The decline posted in May was essentially due to the losses observed in clothing and clothing accessories stores (-7.0%) and motor vehicle and parts dealers (-3.4%).

Over the first five months of 2017, retail trade output rose by 4.4%, while wholesale trade output grew by 6.4%.


The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is responsible for carrying out all statistical surveys of general interest. The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.

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