Both goods and services see productivity declines in Q3

By James Langton | December 6, 2023 | Last updated on December 6, 2023
1 min read
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iStock / Andrii Yalanskyi

As economic momentum slows, the long-running struggle to boost labour productivity and contain labour costs deepens too, new data from Statistics Canada suggests.

With a 0.8% drop in the third quarter, labour productivity had its sixth consecutive quarterly decline, the national statistical agency reported.

Both the goods and services sides of the economy saw productivity declines, dropping 0.9% and 0.4%, respectively in the third quarter.

Overall, productivity declined in 10 out of 16 industry sectors, with retail trade, manufacturing, and agriculture and forestry leading the way, StatsCan said.

The third quarter drop, which accelerated after a 0.1% decline in the previous quarter, was driven by a contraction in business output, accompanied by a small increase in hours worked, it noted.

Real GDP from businesses dropped by 0.7% in the third quarter, following increases of 0.3% and 0.5% in the first two quarters of the year.

Hours worked rose by 0.1% in the third quarter, which represented the weakest growth rate in 13 quarters, StatsCan noted.

“Hours worked in services-producing businesses rose during the third quarter, up 0.2%, while those in goods-producing businesses edged down 0.1%,” it reported.

Alongside the decline in productivity, unit labour costs continued to rise in the third quarter — increasing 1.6%, which was the same growth rate as in the second quarter, StatsCan said.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.