Statistics Canada building and signs are pictured in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Statistics Canada building and signs are pictured in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Better-than-expected Jan. growth a good sign for pandemic’s third wave: economists

The shadow hanging over the economy now is COVID-19 and its variants that are pushing up caseloads

The Canadian economy grew 0.7 per cent in January in the face of severe public health restrictions, and appears to have grown almost as much in February, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

January’s reading for real gross domestic product compared with a gain of 0.1 per cent in December, and topped the data agency’s preliminary estimate for the month of 0.5 per cent.

It was the ninth consecutive monthly increase since the plunge in the economy last year at the start of the pandemic in March and April when workers were ordered home and non-essential businesses forced to close.

Almost one year later, Statistics Canada said that total economic activity was still about three per cent below the February level last year, before the pandemic began.

The agency’s preliminary estimate for February this year showed growth of 0.5 per cent for the month.

TD Bank senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam said January was a solid month for the Canadian economy, despite the tighter public health restrictions in Ontario and Quebec, reflecting what he called the “growing resilience of the economy to the pandemic.”

“With Statistics Canada projecting continued growth in February, the first quarter of 2021 is shaping out to be a very good one for Canada,” Thanabalasingam said.

The Bank of Canada recently revised its expectations for the first quarter of the year, saying earlier this month that the economy should overall grow, rather than contract as it expected in January.

With early indicators suggesting improved business and consumer confidence for March, total annualized growth for the quarter appears to be on track to hit or exceed five per cent, RBC economist Claire Fan wrote in a note.

The shadow hanging over the economy now is COVID-19 and its variants that are pushing up caseloads across the country, placing pressure on provinces to tighten restrictions once again.

BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said the better-than-expected economic picture in January, even as the country shed more than 200,000 jobs, suggests sectors will be able to manage through any third-wave lockdowns or restrictions in the coming weeks.

But he cautioned that some sectors are going to feel the pain more than others. Arts and entertainment is half of what it was one year ago, he said, while hotels and restaurants are about 40 per cent below pre-pandemic activity.

Large sectors like construction and manufacturing are down about one per cent from a year ago, Porter said.

“This is the ultimate definition of this so called K-shaped recovery, where the industries at the upper end of the K are basically almost all the way back to where they were before the pandemic began, and those at the bottom of the K are desperately weak,” Porter said in an interview.

“If there’s good news, when things are eventually able to reopen again, you’re going to see a spectacular bounce in those sectors that remain 40 or 50 per cent below pre pandemic levels.”

The growth in January came as goods-producing industries rose 1.5 per cent, while services-producing industries added 0.4 per cent.

Statistics Canada said the wholesale trade sector rose 3.9 per cent in January, more than offsetting a 1.5 per cent contraction in December.

The manufacturing sector grew 1.9 per cent in January to offset a decline of 0.7 per cent in December, while the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction sector grew 2.7 per cent, its fifth consecutive month of growth.

ALSO READ: B.C.’s iconic West Coast Trail to re-open to visitors in June 2021

Craig Wong and Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronaviruseconomy

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Raising more than $1,300 for the KVHS’s dementia home project, Dennis and Brenda Horwood leave Kitimat with a bang and start their new retirement journey together. (Photo supplied)
KVHS thanks local Kitimat couple for their contributions to the dementia home project

Dennis and Brenda Horwood raise $1,360 during a retirement garage sale

No increase in fees will be made by the leisure services department in the summer months. Reviews will be made again in May/June for any recommended fee adjustments in the fall. (District of Kitimat photo)
District of Kitimat halt leisure fee increases until the fall

The Leisure Services Advisory Commission recommended no increase take place at this time

Mount Elizabeth Theatre have been approved for a provision of funding by city council for up to $42,000. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Kitimat’s multi-use theatre grant request approved for live streaming equipment

A funding commitment of up to $42,000 was granted from council to the Mount Elizabeth Theatre

Tracy Owen-Best with her husband, Larry Best. Tracy runs both the Nechako Barbershop and Hair Essentials Salon in Kitimat. Diagnosed with cancer in March 2020, she’s kept a positive mindset with the help from a supportive family. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Tracy Owen-Best

Barbershop owner and cancer fighter keeps it positive

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read