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Labour productivity, hourly compensation and unit labour cost, second quarter 2013

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Released: 2013-09-06

Labour productivity in Canadian businesses rose 0.5% in the second quarter, after edging up 0.1% in each of the previous two quarters.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Productivity and real output of Canadian businesses grow at the same pace - Description and data table
Productivity and real output of Canadian businesses grow at the same pace

Chart 1: Productivity and real output of Canadian businesses grow at the same pace - Description and data table

Real gross domestic product of businesses grew 0.5%, after gaining 0.6% in the first quarter. Service-producing businesses, especially in retail and wholesale trade, the finance and insurance sector and real estate services, were largely responsible for this growth.

Hours worked in the business sector were unchanged in the second quarter, after increasing 0.5% in the previous quarter. A 0.4% gain in hours worked in service-producing businesses was offset by a 0.8% decline in hours worked in goods-producing businesses. The extensive flooding in Southern Alberta and the construction strike in Quebec in the last two weeks of the second quarter resulted in a 0.2 percentage point reduction in the quarterly change in hours worked.

Productivity increased in both goods-producing businesses (+0.3%) and service-producing businesses (+0.6%) in the second quarter. The largest productivity gains were in arts and entertainment (+3.7%), utilities (+1.7%), finance and insurance (+1.5%) and agriculture (+1.5%). Conversely, labour productivity was lower in mining and oil and gas extraction (-1.0%), transportation and warehousing (-0.5%) and real estate services (-0.5%).

In the United States, the productivity of American businesses rose 0.2% in the second quarter, after edging up 0.1% in the first quarter and decreasing 0.5% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Labour costs per unit of production for Canadian businesses were up 0.6% in the second quarter, as the growth of average compensation per hour worked (+1.1%) outpaced that of productivity.

The unit labour costs of Canadian businesses expressed in terms of US dollars fell 0.9%, a second consecutive quarterly decline. The average value of the Canadian dollar expressed in US dollars was down 1.4% in the quarter, a second straight quarter of depreciation.

By comparison, the unit labour costs of American businesses rose 0.4%, following a 1.4% decline in the first quarter.

  Note to readers


With this release of labour productivity and related variables, data were revised back to the first quarter of 2013 at the aggregate level and to the first quarter of 2012 at the industry level.

Productivity measure

The term "productivity" in this release refers to labour productivity. For the purposes of this analysis, labour productivity and related variables cover the business sector only. Labour productivity is a measure of real gross domestic product (GDP) per hour worked. Unit labour cost is defined as the cost of workers' wages and benefits per unit of real GDP.

All the growth rates reported in this release are rounded to one decimal place. They are calculated with index numbers rounded to three decimal places, which are now available on CANSIM.

The National economic accounts module, accessible from the Browse by key resource module of our website, features an up-to-date portrait of national and provincial economies and their structure.

Links to other releases from the national accounts can be found in the second quarter 2013 issue of Canadian Economic Accounts Quarterly Review, Vol. 12, no. 2 (Catalogue number13-010-X). This publication will be updated on September 13, at the time of the release of the financial flow accounts and national balance sheet accounts.

Labour productivity, hourly compensation and unit labour cost data for the third quarter will be released on December 6.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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