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Construction investment improves for August

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Investment in building construction, seasonally adjusted.

As the construction industry started to play catch up, after the industry shut down due to the pandemic, August recorded a record high investment in construction.

Investment in building construction increased five per cent to $16 billion in August. The residential sector increased by 8.2 per cent to $10.8 billion, while the non-residential sector decreased by 1.2 per cent to $5.2 billion.

However, on a year-to-date basis, total investment was 3.7 per cent lower than the same period in 2019. On a constant dollar basis, investment in building construction increased by 4.9 per cent to $13.1 billion.

Residential investment

Investment in residential construction rose for the fourth consecutive month. Single-unit investment rose 5.4 per cent to $5.4 billion, while multi-unit investment was up 11.2 per cent to $5.4 billion, slightly surpassing single-unit investment levels. Multi-unit investment gains were reported in nine provinces, led by Alberta (up 42.4 per cent) and Quebec (up 15.8 per cent). The growth in Alberta was driven by the construction of several high-rise apartments in Calgary and Edmonton. Prince Edward Island was the only province to report a decline (down 17.3 per cent). Residential construction values in Canada exceeded February pre-COVID-19 levels for the first time in August.

Non-residential investment

For the non-residential industry, investment declines 1.2 per cent to $5.2 billion with decreases reported in all three components (industrial, commercial, and institutional). Declines were posted in seven provinces with the largest recorded in Quebec. New Brunswick posted its seventh consecutive month-to-month decrease, down 2.1 per cent.

Despite these declines, August levels remain higher than pre-COVID-19 levels for all components expect industrial investment.

Nationally, the industrial component was down 1.4 per cent to $895 million with declines reported in seven provinces.

Investment in the commercial component was down 1.5 per cent to $3.1 billion. Gain in Newfoundland and Labrador (up 12.2 per cent) and Prince Edward Island (up 8.3 per cent) were outweighed by declines in the eight other provinces.

Institutional investment edged down 0.5 per cent to $1.2 billion. The majority of declines were reported in Ontario and Quebec, more than offsetting gains in Alberta, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.

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