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hrai2090721According to Statistics Canada, the total value of building permits issued by Canadian municipalities in May rebounded 20.2% to $7.4 billion, following declines of 13.4% in March and 15.4% in April. This was the largest percentage increase since March 2009. Although all provinces still had public health guidelines in place in May, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island had policy changes during the month. In Ontario, some non-residential construction projects resumed on May 4, and on May 19 all construction projects were allowed to reopen. In Quebec, all sectors of the construction industry were authorized to resume activity on May 11 within strict guidelines. In Prince Edward Island, new construction projects were permitted to start on May 1, following a five-week work stoppage. The value of permits increased 72% in Quebec, 24% in Ontario and 1019% in Prince Edward Island.

The total value of residential permits was up in six provinces in May, increasing 18.7% to $4.8 billion nationally. The majority of residential gains related to single-family homes, which rose by a record $518 million (+37.5%), following a drop of 34.6% in April. The value of permits for multi-family dwellings increased 9.0% to $2.9 billion.

The value of commercial permits was up 20.8% to $1.5 billion in May, with the largest increases reported in Ontario (+26.3%) and Quebec (+147.8%). Industrial permits jumped 57.6% to $600 million, following a substantial decrease in April. This increase was largely driven by a permit for a Molson brewery in Montréal. Institutional permits posted their first gain for 2020, increasing 2.8% to $544 million. Permits for postsecondary institutions led that increase.


hrai3090720Housing starts reached 196,750 units in May, down from 198,644 units in April 2020. This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR). Outside of Quebec, the national trend in housing starts decreased. Higher multi-family starts in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces were offset by declines in British Columbia and the Prairies.

The standalone monthly SAAR of housing starts for all areas in Canada excluding Quebec saw a decrease of 20.4% in May from April. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 21.6% in May. Multiple urban starts decreased by 27.2% while single-detached urban starts decreased by 3.9%. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 7,772 units, excluding Quebec.


hrai4090720The unemployment rate rose to a record 13.7% in May, topping the previous high of 13.1 per cent set in December 1982. The increase in the unemployment rate came as more people started looking for work. Statistics Canada said the number of people who worked less than half their usual hours fell by 292,000 in May. Authorities eased public health restrictions linked to the pandemic during May and the economy added 289,600 jobs. The increase in the number of jobs comes after three million jobs were lost over March and April, and about 2.5 million more had their hours slashed. Both results were more positive than prior estimates from economists. It is estimated that approximately 1.2 million workers have stopped accessing the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

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