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For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

Doug McCann Research and Statistics Officer
Tel: 902-424-2141Email:

March 07, 2018

Labour productivity of Canadian businesses was up 0.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017, after declining 0.5 per cent in the third quarter. Real gross domestic product (GDP) of businesses was up 0.4 per cent in Q4 while hours worked rose 0.2 per cent. Labour productivity declined in the goods (-0.1%) after five quarters of growth. Service-producing businesses productivity increased 0.5 per cent with finance and insurance and retail trade being the main sources of growth.


Unit labour costs increased 1.5 per cent in Q4, similar to the previous quarter. The increase in labour productivity (0.2%) was less than the gain in compensation per hour worked (+1.7%) and led to an increase in unit labour costs. Measured in US dollars, Canada's unit labour costs were unchanged in the quarter with the average value of the Canadian dollar relative to the US dollar rising in line with unit labour costs for the quarter. Unit labour costs in US dollars have increased 7.0 per cent since Q4 2016.

For 2017, business sector labour productivity increased 2.1 per cent, following on 0.6 per cent in 2016. Real GDP of the business sector increased 3.4 per cent while hours worked were up 1.3 per cent. Hourly compensation increased 2.4 per cent, leading to a 0.3 per cent increase in unit labour costs given the 2.1 per cent increase in labour productivity. Unit labour costs in US dollars increased 2.5 per cent as the Canadian dollar appreciated.

Labour productivity in business sector was up 2.9 per cent led by gains in manufacturing and construction while business service productivity increased 2.2 per cent with gains in wholesale, retail, and finance and insurance.


Note: Labour productivity, GDP and, unit labour costs cover the business sector only. Labour productivity is a measure of real GDP per hour worked. Unit labour cost is defined as the cost of workers' wages and benefits per unit of real GDP.

Statistics Canada -Labour productivity, hourly compensation and unit labour cost, fourth quarter 2017

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