Design Engineering

Canadian manufacturing output takes record downturn in March

Mike McLeod   


IHS Markit data reveals extent of the blow to manufacturing sector due to COVID-19 pandemic.

According to data compiled by IHS Markit (up to March 25, 2020), Canadian manufacturing production fell during the month at the fastest pace since the market analysis firm began compiling manufacturing data roughly nine years ago. The company’s Canada Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is derived from surveys of senior executives at private sector companies.

According to the PMI data for March, Canadian manufacturers experienced survey-record declines in output, new orders and employment due, almost exclusively, to shrinking customer demand amid the global public health emergency, the company said.

“Some manufacturing companies cited an additional fall in new business related to a sharp drop in spending by clients in the energy sector,” said Tim Moore, Economics Director at IHS Markit. “The latest survey also highlighted by far the steepest lengthening of suppliers’ delivery times since the survey began in October 2010, with manufacturers most commonly citing shortages of materials and severe supply chain disruptions across Asia and Europe.”

According to IHS Markit, its seasonally adjusted PMI dropped from 51.8 in February to 46.1 in March, registering below the 50.0 no-change threshold for the first time since August 2019. Moreover, the company’s latest reading signaled the sharpest downturn in overall manufacturing conditions in nine and a half years of data collection.


IHS Markit’s latest data also indicated the fastest reduction in new business volumes since the survey began in October 2010, except among food producers and those in the pharmaceuticals sector mainly. Similarly, the index measuring suppliers’ delivery times dropped to a record low of 34.6, down from 45.3 in February. Any figure below the 50.0 no-change mark indicates longer lead-times.

IHS Markit’s survey found that, in March, manufacturing companies responded to shrinking demand and reduced production schedules by streamlining their inventories and cutting employment numbers. The latest decline in staffing levels was the fastest since the survey began, slightly exceeding the previous record seen in December 2015.


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