Canadian business labour productivity on the upswing

Production growth was widespread in all goods-producing and service-producing industries in the fourth quarter of 2017: StatsCan

Mario ToneguzziThe labour productivity of Canadian businesses increased 0.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017, following a 0.5 per cent decline in the third quarter, Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday.

“The productivity growth in the fourth quarter reflected a slowdown in hours worked following two quarters of strong increases, while business output rose at a slightly faster pace than in the third quarter, which outpaced the growth in hours worked,” said the federal agency.

It said gross domestic product (GDP) of businesses rose 0.4 per cent, following a 0.2 per cent increase in the previous quarter. Production growth was widespread in all goods-producing and service-producing business industries. Only utilities, administrative services, and agriculture and forestry declined in the fourth quarter, while mining and oil and gas extraction and information and cultural industries were essentially unchanged.

“Meanwhile, hours worked in the business sector increased 0.2 per cent, following larger increases in the two previous quarters. Hours worked in goods-producing businesses rose 0.5 per cent, while hours worked in service-producing businesses increased 0.1 per cent.

“Although growth slowed in most major industry sectors, hours worked increased in nine of 16 sectors in the fourth quarter. The largest increases were in the construction (up 1.4 per cent), other commercial services (up 1.1 per cent), and arts, entertainment and recreation (up 1.0 per cent) sectors.

“In the fourth quarter, productivity growth was mostly attributable to service-producing businesses (up 0.5 per cent), following a 0.6 per cent decrease in the previous quarter. Productivity in goods-producing businesses declined 0.1 per cent, following five consecutive quarters of growth.”

Respected business writer Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.

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