June 11, 2009

Canada’s industrial utilization rate tanks

Canada's industrial utilization fell to an unprecedented 69.3 percent in the first quarter, meaning 30 percent of capacity is idle, Statistics Canada reported.

The recession spawned a 5.6 percentage drop in utilization from the fourth quarter of 2008, and was the first time that industrial capacity use fell below the 70 percent level since the start of the data series in 1987, StatsCan said.

Sectors reporting particularly strong declines in utilization were the transportation equipment industry, construction and mining, the report said.

The agency said 18 of 21 major industries within the manufacturing group saw declines in utilization. The transportation equipment manufacturing sector was hardest hit, dropping 15.8 percent from 58.3 percent usage in the fourth quarter to 42.5 percent in the first quarter of 2009.

StatsCan said capacity usage rates increased in food manufacturing, beverage and tobacco product manufacturing, and petroleum and coal product manufacturing industries.