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Manufacturing in Alberta ends 2020 on the rise

ATB Economics | 16 February 2021

For the seventh time in eight months, Alberta’s manufacturing shipments increased. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, total shipments in December were up by 2.3 per cent ($129.1 million) compared to November.

Climbing out of the hole created by the pandemic has, however, been slow going. December’s sales were still down by 5.1 per cent compared to the previous December. This is much better than the 32.4 per cent ($2.3 billion) gap set back in May 2020, but annual sales still ended the year down by 15.1 per cent ($11.5 billion).

Sub-sectors that ended the year on a high note in December include, for example, wood products (up 48.6 per cent compared to 12 months earlier), paper manufacturing (+37.4 per cent) and food products (+12.7 per cent).

Sub-sectors that were still struggling in December include, for example, primary metals (down 45.9 per cent compared to December 2019), electrical equipment, appliance and component manufacturing (-44.8 per cent) and petroleum refineries (-24.9 per cent).

Only three sub-sectors had a better year in 2020 than in 2019: wood products (+24.9 per cent), food products (+5.8 per cent) and paper manufacturing (+4.7 per cent).

The sector that took the biggest hit last year in absolute terms was petroleum refineries, which saw shipments fall by $8.3 billion in 2020 compared to 2019 (-40.3 per cent). The second largest absolute drop was in the machinery sub-sector, which was down by $1.4 billion (23.6 per cent) on an annual basis.

Nationally, annual shipments were down by 11.4 per cent compared to 2019.

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