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Consulting services, 2018

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Released: 2020-02-21

The management, scientific and technical consulting services industry group reported $21.2 billion in operating revenue in 2018, up 3.6% from the previous year. Growth has eased compared with the 4.2% increase in 2017. This industry group offers consulting services in various sectors, such as human resources, information technology, science and economics, management, and the environment. Operating expenses grew 3.5% to $15.0 billion in 2018, resulting in an operating profit margin of 29.1%.

Salaries, wages, commissions and benefits increased 4.3% to $6.7 billion in 2018. This remained the largest expense item for the industry group, accounting for 44.2% of operating expenses. In the past few years, tightening labour markets in several provinces and record low unemployment rates have put upward pressure on industry wages as consulting firms face competition to hire qualified workers. The second-largest expense item for the industry group was sub-contracts, which represented 9.5% of operating expenses.

Since 2012, firms in Ontario have accounted for an increasing share of the industry group's total operating revenue. In 2018, Ontario firms accounted for 48.2% of operating revenue, followed by firms in Alberta (16.9%), British Columbia (15.1%) and Quebec (14.3%). Lower capital expenditures in the oil and gas industry in Alberta have dampened demand for environmental consulting services and other scientific and technical consulting services. Investment in the energy sector in Alberta has yet to recover.

Sales of management consulting services (71.4%) accounted for the largest share of the industry group's sales in 2018. This share has been growing since 2013, spurred by rising demand for financial management consulting services. Sales of other scientific and technical consulting services accounted for 16.7% of the industry group's sales, while sales of environmental consulting services, such as environmental assessments and audits, represented 9.4% of total sales.

Business clients represented the largest share (66.0%) of the client base for the industry group, followed by governments, not-for-profit organizations and public institutions (15.2%). Exports have been increasing—clients outside Canada accounted for 13.2% of the client base in 2018, compared with 8.0% in 2013. The weaker Canadian dollar has contributed to boosting exports of services in the last few years.

  Note to readers

Data for 2016 and 2017 have been revised.

The management, scientific and technical consulting services industry group includes management consulting services, environmental consulting services, and other scientific and technical consulting services.

Contact information

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