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Canadian Economy Flexing Its Muscle

Much has been made lately of Canada’s attempt to climb out of the hole created by its financial downturn over the past year and change. With the economy looking towards recovery in recent months, the nation remains hopeful that it has seen the worst of the global recession come and go.

Today, Sharon Singleton of QMI Agency reports that this is exactly the case. With a spike in manufacturing sales and labour productivity, Canada’s economic recovery is better than expected at this time. Data released today also indicates that the Canadian dollar has reached a value of 98.57 cents U.S. As reported earlier this month, it is expected that the loonie will reach parity with its American counterpart and may even surpass it in value this summer.

The data released by Statistics Canada today shows that “manufacturing sales rose 2.4% in January to $44.6 billion, far exceeding forecasts for a 0.5% gain. Seventeen out of 21 industries saw sales increase, with primary metals, coal and petroleum leading the way.”

Meanwhile, labour productivity rose 1.4% in the fourth quarter marking its first rise since the third quarter of 2008 and its largest quarterly jump since the beginning of 1998. These numbers add strength to the notion that Canada’s economy is rebounding faster than any other country in the industrialized world. Of course, it has not yet returned to levels it saw before the recession. But Canada’s economic growth, as of late, has been promising.

According to TD Financial Group economist Grant Bishop: “Overall, the data on orders presents a good backbone for the months to come. Though, still 16% below their July 2008 peak, the return of Canadian manufacturing shipments to pre-recession levels is likely to be a multi-year story.”

British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario lead all Canadian provinces with reports of the highest manufacturing sales. As Singleton reports, “sales in B.C. jumped 4.2% mainly driven by primary metals and wood products. The positive economic data, coupled with higher commodity prices are pulling investors into the loonie, with many economists forecasting it will reach parity with its U.S. counterpart by summer.”

StatsCan did have other good news for Canadians to report as well. Businesses across the nation increased their productivity by 1.4% in the fourth quarter of 2009, finding their highest rate since the first quarter of 2002. Exports, consumer spending and residential investment helped to drive this number up.

In addition, Singleton reports that “hours worked remained unchanged after rising 0.3% in the third quarter. Employment edged up 0.1%, while hours worked per job fell by 0.1%.”

The economy is growing. More jobs are becoming available. And Canada is leading the world in its financial growth. As if there weren’t enough reasons to be proud being Canadian.

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