Manufacturing Shipments Fall

An article in Statistics Canada’s Daily notes that the value of Canadian factory shipments hit a two-year low in October. Because manufacturing includes petroleum products, this development largely resulted from the recent oil-price drop. The inclusion of resource-processing industries means that the value of “manufacturing” shipments partly reflects commodity prices.

In my view, the more interesting statistic is that the volume of these shipments hit a four-year low. While prices have fluctuated, the quantity manufactured in Canada has decreased more steadily. This statistic may reflect at least two worrying trends in the Canadian economy:

– the decline of non-resource industries relative to resource industries; and

– the shift, within resource industries, away from processing toward the export of raw commodities.

The Canadian labour movement is developing an analysis of, and policy responses to, the manufacturing crisis. Outside input would be welcome.

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