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For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

July 31, 2020

Statistics Canada's preliminary estimate for real GDP points to an approximate 5 per cent increase in economic activity in June. This flash estimate indicates an approximate 12 per cent decline in real GDP in the second quarter of 2020. These preliminary estimates will be revised with the release of the official GDP data for June and the second quarter on August 28, 2020. 

Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Canada increased 4.5 per cent month over month in May 2020, following two months of unprecedented declines.

The social distancing measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 resulted in widespread shutdowns and large declines in economic activity over March and April 2020. With provinces and territories starting to gradually reopen their economies, economic activity picked up in May. While May’s gain offset some of the declines seen in the previous two months, total economic activity was still 14.7 per cent below the pre-COVID level seen in February 2020.

Compared to May 2019, the Canadian economy declined 13.8 per cent with an annualized value of $1,700 billion (chained 2012 dollars) in May 2020.

Goods-Producing Industries

Output for goods-producing sector increased 8.0 per cent with all subsectors registering monthly gains.

Construction sector grew 17.6 per cent in May with all types of construction activity expanding. This rate of monthly growth was the largest monthly increase posted since the series started in January 1961.

The manufacturing sector output increased 7.4 per cent in May 2020 supported by gains in both durable and non-durable manufacturing sectors. Durable manufacturing increased 11.2 per cent, mainly due to a 30.5 per cent growth in the transportation equipment manufacturing subsector. The output of motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts slowly resumed in May as most automotive plants started to gradually reopen midway through the month.

Non-durable manufacturing rose 4.0 per cent, led by the growth in petroleum and coal products manufacturing (+14.4%) in May 2020. Plastic and rubber products manufacturing (+16.7%) and beverage and tobacco manufacturing (+18.0%) were up in May while paper (-7.5%) and food manufacturing (-3.0%) were down.

Services-Producing Industries

Output of services-producing sector increased 3.4 per cent in May 2020.

Accommodation and food services output increased 24.2 per cent in May. Activity at food services and drinking places increased 35.1 per cent while accommodation services was down 2.3 per cent in May.

Retail trade increased 16.4 per cent in May, posting the largest monthly gain since the series started in 1961. Activity was up in 11 of the 12 subsectors with motor vehicle and parts dealers (+68.6%) contributing the most to the growth. General merchandise stores increased 19.8 per cent and reached a pre-pandemic level of activity. As shopping malls and stores began to reopen, activity bounced back in clothing and clothing accessories (+94.8%) and sporting hoods, hobby, book and music stores (+98.2%). Supported by the shift toward online shopping, non-store retailers increased 5.0 per cent in May for the third consecutive month. Food and beverage stores declined 1.4 per cent in May following two months of elevated activity.

Wholesale trade increased 6.0 per cent in May following three months of declines. Activity was up in 8 of the 9 subsectors, led by the higher output of building material and supplies merchant wholesalers (+14.4%). Personal and household goods wholesaling increased 10.7 per cent. Machinery, equipment, and supplies wholesaling (-0.9%) was the only subsector posting a monthly decline.

Transportation and warehousing sector increased 2.1 per cent in May following four months od consecutive monthly declines. The largest contributions came from truck transportation (+6.0%) and transportation support activities (+2.3%). While air transportation increased 1.9 per cent from the all-time low level recorded in April, the level of activity was still 96 per cent below the pre-COVID level seen in January.

The professional, scientific and technical services sector was up 1.8 per cent in May, following two months of decline resulting from the restrictive measures implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Health and social services activity increased 3.3. per cent in May, led by a 11.3 per cent growth in ambulatory health care. Educational services increased 6.7 per cent. Public administration activity was down 1.8 per cent in May for the third consecutive month.

Arts and entertainment output was down 2.9 per cent in May due to continued decline in performing arts, spectator sports and heritage institutions.  

Source: Statistics Canada, Table 36-10-0434-01 Gross domestic product (GDP) at basic prices, by industry, monthly (x 1,000,000)


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