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Monthly Survey of Manufacturing, September 2017

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Released: 2017-11-16

Manufacturing sales rose 0.5% to $53.7 billion in September, reflecting higher sales in the petroleum and coal product industry.

Overall, sales were up in 7 of 21 industries, representing 28.9% of the Canadian manufacturing sector. Sales of non-durable goods rose 1.7% to $25.4 billion, while sales of durable goods decreased 0.5% to $28.4 billion.

In constant dollars, sales increased 0.7%, indicating that higher volumes of manufactured goods were sold in September.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Manufacturing sales rise
Manufacturing sales rise

Petroleum and coal product sales lead the gains

Sales in the petroleum and coal product industry grew 10.3% to $5.5 billion in September, the third consecutive monthly gain. The increase reflected gains in prices and volumes for petroleum and coal product. After removing the effect of price changes, sales in volume terms increased 6.7% in September.

Sales in current dollars also increased in the machinery (+1.9%) and paper (+1.0%) industries. Sales in constant dollars for these industries increased 2.1% and 1.4%, respectively, indicating that higher volumes of goods sold were responsible for the gains.

Partially offsetting these increases in current dollars were declines in the food and transportation equipment industries. Sales in the food industry were down 1.0% to $8.4 billion in September. Widespread decreases in sales were reported, and reflected lower prices and volumes. After removing price effects, sales volumes of the food industry declined 0.4% in September.

Overall sales in the transportation equipment industry declined 0.7% to $10.3 billion, although increases in the railroad rolling stock industry (+66.8%), other transportation equipment (+36.5%) and aerospace product and parts (+5.6%) were posted in September. These gains were not sufficient to offset decreases in the motor vehicle (-5.9%) and motor vehicle parts (-2.5%) industries. After removing price effects, volumes sold declined by 4.5% and 1.2% respectively in these industries, following strong volumes in August.

Manufacturing sales up in seven provinces

Sales rose in seven provinces in September, led by Quebec and New Brunswick.

Manufacturing sales in Quebec rose 1.7% to $13.3 billion, their highest value on record. The growth in September was largely attributable to the petroleum and coal (+24.9%) and the aerospace product and parts (+10.3%) industries. The increases were partly offset by a 2.8% decline in the food industry.

In New Brunswick, manufacturing sales rose 13.1% to $1.7 billion. This was their highest level since November 2014 and reflected higher sales of non-durable goods.

After increasing 2.3% in August, sales in Ontario fell 0.9% to $24.4 billion in September. The decline was largely attributable to lower sales in the motor vehicle (-6.3%), motor vehicle parts (-2.7%) and primary metal (-3.6%) industries. These decreases were partially offset by a 5.0% increase in sales in the machinery industry.

In Alberta, sales declined 0.9% to $5.8 billion, following a 1.6% increase in August. The overall decline in September was largely driven by lower sales in the food product (-4.3%) and chemical (-2.7%) industries.

Inventory levels decline

Inventory levels fell for the fourth consecutive month, down 0.7% to $73.3 billion in September. Inventories were down in 10 of 21 industries, led by the transportation equipment (-2.8%), primary metal (-2.0%) and machinery (-1.7%) industries. These decreases were partially offset by a 4.1% rise in the petroleum and coal product industry.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Inventory levels decline
Inventory levels decline

The inventory-to-sales ratio fell from 1.38 in August to 1.36 in September. The inventory-to-sales ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.

Chart 3  Chart 3: The inventory-to-sales ratio decreases
The inventory-to-sales ratio decreases

Unfilled orders decrease

Unfilled orders declined 1.1% to $85.1 billion in September. Most of the decrease was attributable to a drop in unfilled orders in the aerospace product and parts industry, as well as the other transportation equipment industry.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Unfilled orders decrease
Unfilled orders decrease

These declines were partially offset by an increase in unfilled orders in the motor vehicle and machinery industries.

New orders decreased 1.7% to $52.8 billion, following a 5.2% gain in August. The decline was mainly attributable to fewer new orders in the aerospace product and parts industry and in the motor vehicle industry. The decrease was partially offset by higher new orders in the petroleum and coal product industry.

Telling Canada's story in numbers; #ByTheNumbers

In celebration of the country's 150th birthday, Statistics Canada is presenting snapshots from our rich statistical history.

History of Canadian plastics and rubber products manufacturing

Plastics and rubber products manufacturing comprise establishments primarily engaged in producing goods by processing raw rubber and plastic materials.

The Canadian Rubber Company was the first rubber manufacturing establishment in Canada and began operating in Montréal in 1854. The company produced footwear that was sold in Quebec, Ontario, the United States and Europe.

In the 20th century, the rubber products industry grew in importance with the manufacturing of tires for the automotive industry. In 1950, rubber processing represented 91.2% ($239.2 million) of the rubber and plastic products industry's production, while the manufacturing of plastic products represented 8.8% ($23.0 million). During the 1960s, the petrochemical industry developed new plastic products that were lighter and more resistant. These products gradually replaced some of the traditional materials used in the automotive industry, aerospace, medicine, and in the manufacturing of many other goods.

In 1978, for the first time, plastic products industry sales ($1.6 billion) exceeded rubber products industry sales ($1.5 billion). From 1978 to 2006, plastic products industry sales grew on average by 10.8% per year, while rubber products sales grew by 5.2%. The two industries' sales declined during the economic slowdown in 2008.

From 2007 to 2009, sales for the plastic products industry declined 22.6%, while sales for the rubber products industry declined 24.3%. But the plastic products industry recovered faster from the decline, with sales surpassing previous highs in 2015. In 2016, plastic products industry sales totalled $24.3 billion and rubber products industry sales totalled $4.8 billion.

Chart 5  Chart 5: The rubber products industry sales and the plastic products industry sales from 1970 to 2016
The rubber products industry sales and the plastic products industry sales from 1970 to 2016 

  Note to readers

Monthly data in this release are seasonally adjusted and are expressed in current dollars unless otherwise specified.

For information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions. For information on trend-cycle data, see Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.

Non-durable goods industries include food, beverage and tobacco products, textile mills, textile product mills, clothing, leather and allied products, paper, printing and related support activities, petroleum and coal product, chemicals, and plastics and rubber products.

Durable goods industries include wood products, non-metallic mineral products, primary metals, fabricated metal products, machinery, computer and electronic products, electrical equipment, appliances and components, transportation equipment, furniture and related products, and miscellaneous manufacturing.

Production-based industries

For the aerospace and shipbuilding industries, the value of production is used instead of the value of sales of goods manufactured. The value of production is calculated by adjusting monthly sales of goods manufactured by the monthly change in inventories of goods in process and finished products manufactured. The value of production is used because of the extended period of time that it normally takes to manufacture products in these industries.

Unfilled orders are a stock of orders that will contribute to future sales, assuming that the orders are not cancelled.

New orders are those received, whether sold in the current month or not. New orders are measured as the sum of sales for the current month plus the change in unfilled orders from the previous month to the current month.

Manufacturers reporting in US dollars

Some Canadian manufacturers report sales, inventories and unfilled orders in US dollars. These data are then converted to Canadian dollars as part of the data production cycle.

For sales, based on the assumption that they occur throughout the month, the average monthly exchange rate for the reference month (noon spot rate) established by the Bank of Canada is used for the conversion. The monthly average exchange rate is available in CANSIM table 176-0081. Inventories and unfilled orders are reported at the end of the reference period. For most respondents, the noon spot exchange rate on the last working day of the month is used for the conversion of these variables.

However, some manufacturers choose to report their data as of a day other than the last day of the month. In these instances, the noon spot exchange rate on the day selected by the respondent is used. Note that because of exchange rate fluctuations, the noon spot exchange rate on the day selected by the respondent can differ from both the exchange rate on the last working day of the month and the monthly average exchange rate. Noon spot exchange rate data are available in CANSIM table 176-0080.

Revision policy

Each month, the Monthly Survey of Manufacturing releases preliminary data for the reference month and revised data for the three previous months. Revisions are made to reflect new information provided by respondents and updates to administrative data.

Once a year, a revision project is undertaken to revise multiple years of data. Statistics Canada released revised monthly manufacturing data on September 19, 2017, in accordance with standard practices. Sales of goods manufactured, inventories and orders in current dollars were revised back to January 2014 for unadjusted data, and to January 2012 for seasonally adjusted and constant dollar data.

Real-time CANSIM tables

Real-time CANSIM tables 304-8014, 304-8015 and 377-8009 will be updated on November 27. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Data from the Monthly Survey of Manufacturing for October will be released on December 15.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Bechir Oueriemmi (613-951-7938; or Michael Schimpf (613-863-4480;, Manufacturing and Wholesale Trade Division.

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