Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Canada's economy grows in June

Last Updated: Monday, August 31, 2009 | 10:02 PM ET Comments143Recommend40

Canada's gross domestic product grew in June by 0.1 per cent compared to May, the first positive monthly showing since July 2008, according to figures released Monday.

Canada's performance — albeit barely indicating a financial pulse — was driven by a growing service sector and improved domestic demand, said Statistics Canada.

The monthly gain was not enough to push Canada's GDP growth into positive territory for the second quarter of 2009, but likely sufficient to have economists backing the belief that the country is on the road to economic recovery.

"One month of growth certainly does not by itself herald an end to the recession, but there are plenty of indications that the economy kept growing in July and August," said Doug Porter, an economist with the Bank of Montreal .

Generally, experts declare a recession over when the economy posts a positive gain for a quarter. But in most cases, an economy has turned a corner when it grows in a month.

Porter noted that government spending, through temporary stimulus programs, consumer expenditures and housing starts have all rebounded in recent months.

Perhaps not surprisingly, John Baird, the federal minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, reiterated that Canada's economy was gaining rather than contracting.

"The wheels are in motion for Canada's economic recovery as long as we allow our full economic stimulus plan to take place," Baird commented on Canada's GDP figures.

Downturn's toll

But even as Canada eked out a gain in the sixth month of 2009, the recession has already taken a toll on Canadians.

In the April-to-June period overall, Canada's GDP shrank by 3.2 per cent, compared to the same quarter one year earlier, Statistics Canada said.

That dismal performance was actually an improvement compared to the country's first quarter. For the January-to-March period, Canada's GDP contracted by 5.4 per cent versus Q1 in 2008.

The jobs situation also worsened in Canada in the past year. Compared to June 2008, this June saw 302,000 fewer jobs nationally.

Measured from the previous economic peak to the most recent trough, Canada lost 414,000 jobs.

'80s recession worse

Still, the level of economic contraction nationally was approximately half of the 4.9 per cent GDP loss experienced by Canada in the recession of the early 1980s.

Even faced with that level of deterioration, Canada fared better than many other regions around the world.

The U.S. economy shrank by 5.7 per cent in the second quarter.

For the first three months of 2009, the European Union's GDP fell by 10 per cent, while Japan's national income shrivelled by a record 14.2 per cent.

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