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Canada sees decline in non-residential investment for August

Non-residential construction investment, August 2020
Non-residential construction investment, August 2020.

As construction companies pushed to catch up on work delayed earlier in the spring, August saw construction investment reach a record high. However, on a year-to-date basis total investment was 3.7% lower than for the same period in 2019. 

Non-residential investment declined 1.2% to $5.2 billion in August, with decreases reported in all three components. Declines were posted in seven provinces, with the largest decline recorded in Quebec. New Brunswick posted its seventh consecutive month-to-month decrease, down 2.1% in August. Despite these declines, August levels remain higher than February 2020 pre-COVID levels for all components except industrial investment. 

Nationally, the industrial component was down 1.4% to $895 million in August, with declines reported in seven provinces. 

Investment in the commercial component was down 1.5% to $3.1 billion in August. Gains in Newfoundland and Labrador (+12.2%) and Prince Edward Island (+8.3%) were outweighed by declines in the eight remaining provinces. 

Investment in the institutional component of non-residential investment edged down 0.5% to $1.2 billion. The majority of the declines were reported in Ontario and Quebec, more than offsetting gains in Alberta, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. 

Investment in residential construction rose for the fourth consecutive month in August, up 8.2% to $10.8 billion. Single-unit investment rose 5.4% to $5.4 billion, while multi-unit investment was up 11.2% to $5.4 billion, slightly surpassing single-unit investment levels. Multi-unit investment gains were reported in nine provinces, led by Alberta (+42.4%) and Quebec (+15.8%). The growth in Alberta was driven by the construction of several high-rise apartments in the cities of Calgary and Edmonton. Prince Edward Island was the only province to report a decline for the month (-17.3%). Residential construction values in Canada exceeded February 2020 pre-COVID levels for the first time in August.

Investment in residential building construction, seasonally adjusted.

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