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Manufacturing in Alberta humming along

Manufacturing in Alberta humming along

Posted on: 5/17/2019 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

In yesterday’s Owl, we noted Alberta’s manufacturing sector is one of several potential bright spots amid the economic dark clouds hanging over Alberta this year. And, while it’s still early in the year, new data from Statistics Canada suggest the sector is indeed heading in the right direction.

Monthly manufacturing sales in Alberta increased by 3.9 per cent in March compared to February and were up 3.7 per cent on a year-over-year basis. Revised numbers show sales contracted in February by 0.2 per cent instead of growing by 0.1 per cent as originally reported.

Total sales were nonetheless $450 million higher three months into 2019 than they were at the end of last year, though current manufacturing sales still have some distance to go before they surpass pre-recession levels.

Results were mixed at the sub-sector level. Petroleum refining—the largest sub-sector within manufacturing at 29.3 per cent of total sales in March—grew by 15.9 per cent on the back of both higher volumes and higher prices.

While manufacturing sales are up overall, not all sub-sectors saw growth in March. Food manufacturing (17.8 per cent of total sales) and chemical manufacturing (15.8 per cent of total sales)—the second and third largest sub-sectors—saw their sales fall by 4.1 per cent and 2.8 per cent, respectively. Primary metal, fabricated metal, machinery, and wood product manufacturing also saw sales contract in March whereas plastic, paper, and beverage manufacturing sales increased.

The Owl will be back in flight on Tuesday, after the long weekend.

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