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The industries driving the growth

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With all the talk about the resurgence of resource-based industries, you might think that Canadian economic growth is being driven by oil, mining and natural gas producers. While this industry and its related economic activities have driven big growth in recent years, other industries also play a major role in our economic well-being.

The overall economy advanced 2.8% in 2006, a slight slowdown from 2005 (all figures are adjusted for inflation). Canadian shoppers accounted for the largest part of this growth, with consumer spending advancing 4.2%.

The construction industry posted the strongest growth rate in the entire economy in 2006, 7.4%. Much of this growth was thanks to engineering projects and construction related to the oil patch, although home and commercial building also contributed.

The retail and wholesale trade industries were busy in 2006 keeping store shelves stocked and cash registers ringing. Retailers saw their industry advance 5.2% in 2006, outdoing their already impressive growth from the previous year. Wholesalers saw a second straight year of nearly 7% growth.

Another strong performer is the white-collar world of finance, insurance and real estate, which grew 3.8% in 2006 and more than 18% since 2001. On a less positive note, activity in the manufacturing sector decreased 1.3%, with manufacturing of non-durable goods showing the biggest decline.

Despite the construction industry’s strong showing and the continued visibility of our energy sector, Canada’s economic growth has been largely driven by service industries, which generate more than two-thirds of our GDP and employ 3 in 4 Canadians. While goods-producing industries as a group crept up 0.8% in 2006, services grew 3.6%.