Economic Snapshot – September 2021

Key Highlights

  • Vaughan is top 10 in Canada by value of total building permit in first two quarters; is in top 5 by value for commercial and industrial markets
  • Value of building permits nationally and provincially show decline from July to August, but significant increases in year-over-year for same period
  • Employment and labour force participation return to pre-pandemic level
  • Manufacturing sales increasing slightly, still strongly influenced by effects of pandemic
  • Real GDP indicators show preliminary slight increase in August led by easement of public health measures
  • The Consumer Price Index (CPI) continues to rise at record levels; 4.4% on a year-over-year basis in September, the fastest pace since February 2003

Select Economic Indicators

Vaughan among top ten municipalities by value of building permits

Statistics Canada data for the first half of 2021 ranks Vaughan seventh across municipalities by total building permit values, with a total value of $ 1.1 billion, as well as seventh by value of non-residential permits with a total value of $472.9 million.

Vaughan was third and fourth in the commercial and industrial markets respectively by building permit values for the first half of the year. Commercial building permits carried a total value of $406.4 million, while industrial permits carried a value of $58.4 million.

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National and provincial building permit values drop in second quarter

Nationally, the total value of building permits dropped 2.1% from July to August, but saw a 16.9% change from August 2020 to August 2021. While residential values dropped, non-residential building permits saw a 12.3% increase from July to August, and year-over-year was up 33.8%. Ontario and British Columbia were the only two provinces with notable declines.

In Ontario, the total value of building permits dropped from July to August by 9.9%, with a moderate increase of 8.4% over August 2020. Ontario also had a slight decrease in non-residential values, down 1.1% from the previous month, but with a significant increase of 44.5% year-over-year.

Employment and labour force participation return to pre-pandemic levels

Both employment and labour force participation rate returned to the levels seen pre-pandemic (February 2020). However, among senior women and low-skilled labour (labour not requiring post-secondary education), employment lagged behind pre-pandemic levels, with low-skilled labour lower than employment seen in September 2019. Employment also sat lower than pre-pandemic levels in goods-producing sectors, while surpassing February 2020 levels in services-producing sectors.

Unemployment rate declined slightly for the fourth consecutive month, but last month’s change was driven by an increase in the number of Canadians who are now participating in the labour market. Nationally, the unemployment rate is 6.9% and in Ontario is 7.3%.

GDP showing preliminary slight increase in August

Real gross domestic product (GDP) estimated to have seen a 0.7% increase in August 2021, as easing public health measures led to double digit growth in the accommodation and food services, and arts, entertainment and recreation sectors. 13 of 20 sectors saw gains in July 2021, but were offset by declines in residential housing, particularly single-family homes and home alterations, as well as severe weather impacting agricultural production and forestry.

Manufacturing sales increase slightly from previous month, up 14.9% year-over-year from last August

Manufacturing sales rose slightly in August 2021 after a decline in July, while year-over-year sales saw a double digit increase of nearly 15% from August 2020. Higher sales volume alone resulted in the increase from the previous month, and the raw materials price index decreased for the first time since September 2020 by 2.4%.

Sales in Toronto rose 2.5% in August to $10.5 billion, the highest level since October 2020, with 18 of 21 industries seeing increases. This was led by higher sales of food (+2.2%), motor vehicles (+2.5%) and fabricated metal products (+3.2%) in Toronto. However, sales of motor vehicle parts fell 2.5% month-over-month in August. On a year-over-year basis, total sales in Ontario were up 4.7%.

Pace of inflation remains fastest year-over-year since 2003 for second consecutive month

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 4.4% on a year-over-year basis in September, the fastest pace since February 2003, a slight increase from the 4.1% year-over-year gain reported in August. Transportation prices contributed the most to September’s increase, followed by shelter and food prices.

Food remains the second largest component of the Consumer Price Index accounting for 17% of expenditures by Canadian, and food prices have continue to be impacted by supply disruptions as well as severe weather events.