Construction employment down, investments up

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By Robin MacLennan

CaDCR staff writer

Data from Statistics Canada’s latest Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours shows employment across the country declined by 46,800 (-0.3%) in August, following little change in July.

The construction industry recorded the largest payroll employment decline in August. It was the first time since March that the sector reported a payroll decline and it was focused on specialty trade contractors (-13,000; -1.9%), including building equipment contractors (-4,600; -1.5%) and foundation, structure and building exterior contractors (-4,000; -3.0%). Declines were also recorded in non-residential building construction (-3,900; -3.1%), heavy and civil engineering construction (-3,700; -2.0%) and residential building construction (-1,700; -1.0%).

As employment declined, investment in building construction increased 1.1% to $17.9 billion in August. The residential sector was up 1.6% to $11.9 billion, while the non-residential sector remained relatively stable, up 0.1% to $5.9 billion.

Following five months of consecutive declines, investment in residential building construction rose 1.6% to $11.9 billion in August. Quebec (+7.6%; +$2.1 billion) led the growth in both single-family and multi-unit investment.

Single-family home investment rose 2.4% to $5.9 billion. Overall, six provinces posted gains. Quebec (+10.6%; +$95.0 million) had its largest monthly increase in this component since March 2022.

Multi-unit construction investment was up 0.9% to $6.0 billion in August 2023. Notably, after peaking in September 2022, British Columbia (-3.2% to $1.3 billion) posted its 11th consecutive decline in August 2023.

Investment in non-residential construction ticked up 0.1% to $5.9 billion in August.

Despite gains in industrial (+1.1%; +$13.4 billion) and institutional (+0.7%; +$10.1 million) investment, the decline in the commercial component (-0.5%; -$15.8 million) left the non-residential sector largely unchanged for the month.

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