HPAC Magazine

Monthly building construction investment dips in September

After reaching a record high in August, the total investment in building construction across Canada decreased 1.7% in September, driven down by the non-residential sector.

November 9, 2020   By HPAC Magazine

Statistics Canada has reported that the total investment in building construction across the country for the month of September decreased 1.7% compared with the previous month, a slight dip after the measure reached a record high in August.

The agency attributes the decline primarily to decreases in the non-residential (institutional, commercial, industrial) sector which saw a monthly drop of -8.5% as opposed to increases in residential sector investment (+1.6%).

The 8.5% drop in non-residential investment marks the third consecutive monthly decline after peaking in June 2020. The ICI components of non-residential building construction all fell to their lowest levels seen since April 2020.

Ontario (-9.5% to $1.8 billion) and Quebec (-15.2% to $1 billion) accounted for the majority of the provincial declines in all three non-residential components.

Investment in commercial building construction alone was down 11.3% to $2.6 billion in September.

Investment in industrial building construction fell 5.6%, while nationally, the institutional component declined 3.7% overall, despite gains in five provinces.

Investment in non-residential building construction, September 2020

Thumbnail for Infographic 1: Investment in non-residential building construction, September 2020

Slight increase in residential construction investment

Overall, the 1.6% rise in residential investment was led by multi-unit construction. It was the fifth consecutive month with gains in multi-unit construction. Manitoba and Quebec led the advance with both new construction and renovation projects on apartment buildings. The largest declines were reported in British Columbia (-4.1%), continuing a downward trend following a peak reached in May 2019.

Single unit investment in building construction was largely unchanged in September (-0.6%) after four consecutive monthly increases from May through August.

Investment in residential building construction, September 2020

Thumbnail for Infographic 2: Investment in residential building construction, September 2020

Quarterly investment bounces back

Overall, investment in building construction saw strong growth of 25.7% in the third quarter (July, Aug. Sept.), bouncing back from a substantial decline (-19.5%) in the second quarter of 2020 which was impacted by COVID-19-related shutdowns.

While investment in both single and multi-unit construction has rebounded from the second quarter to $15.6 billion, multi-unit investment, which reached a record high on a quarterly basis, has been surpassing single-unit investments since the first quarter of 2020.

The commercial (+13.8% to $8.7 billion) and industrial (+5.1% to $2.6 billion) components of non-residential investment have not yet returned to pre-COVID-19 levels on a quarterly basis. However, the institutional component (+7.5% to $3.5 billion) has surpassed pre-COVID-19 levels.

Provincially, Ontario and Quebec, which accounted for more than three-quarters of the gain, led the quarterly growth.

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