High oil prices and inflation driving up AB manufacturing sales

Alberta manufacturing sales numbers are up, but it might not be because Alberta is producing more.

Earlier this week, Statistics Canada released data on manufacturing sales, and I thought I’d take a look at how Alberta fared compared to the other provinces.

The sales data is only recent up to April 2022. As well, it covers the value of manufacturing sales, not the volume. That means that just because the number is higher doesn’t mean that companies are selling more units. It’s possible that the prices of the units increased.

For example, if a company saw $1 million in manufacturing sales in March on 10,000 units, they were selling the units for $100 a piece.

However, if they increased the price to $120 per unit but sold 10,000 units again in April, their total value of their manufacturing sales would’ve been $1.2 million.

That means their sales will have increased by $200,000 or 20%.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at manufacturing sales for the provinces in April 2022. These numbers are seasonally adjusted.

ON$30.904 billion
QC$17.974 billion
AB$9.548 billion
BC$5.771 billion
NB$2.476 billion
SK$2.101 billion
MB$1.989 billion
NS$0.903 billion
NL$0.359 billion
PEI$0.264 billion

Alberta is in third place, preceded by Ontario and Québec and followed by British Columbia.

Interestingly, Toronto itself had large sales numbers than the entire province of Alberta in April 2022, having seen $12.060 billion. Montréal as a city had the second highest manufacturing sales, which came in under the total for all of Alberta: $7.879 billion.

Now, let’s look at how the provinces fare when comparing April’s numbers to those from March.

Mar 2022Apr 2022Change% change
in billions $

Here we see that Alberta had the largest increase in manufacturing sales over the previous month, jumping by over half a billion dollars.

They had the second highest increase on a percentage basis, however. Their 6.52% increase was surpassed only by New Brunswick’s 7.51%.

And now, here’s what the numbers look like compared to last year.

Apr 2021Apr 2022Change% change
in billions $

On an absolute basis, Alberta saw the third largest increase in manufacturing sales. However, it was again in second place (behind New Brunswick) on a percetage-based increase.

Alberta’s manufacturing sales increased by $2.6 billion over the previous year, which was about 37.57% of April 2021’s numbers.

Now let’s look at the sales by industry. I left out any industries that didn’t report sales for April 2022, March 2022, or April 2021.

Petroleum and coal products$3.176
Wood products$0.709
Fabricated metal products$0.497
Non-metallic mineral products$0.220
Plastics and rubber productss$0.213
Primary metal$0.163
Computer and electronic products$0.080
Furniture and related products$0.064
Electrical equipment, appliance and components$0.043
Transportation equipment$0.042
in billions $

The industry with the single highest value of manufacturing sales in April 2022 was “petroleum and coal products”. In fact, this industry accounted for 33.26% of all manufacturing sales that month. That means that petroleum and coal products accounted for $1 for every $3 in manufacturing sales.

It also saw the largest month-over-month increase:

Mar 2022Apr 2022Change% change
Petroleum and coal products$2.751$3.176$0.42615.47%
Primary metal$0.143$0.163$0.01913.35%
Computer and electronic products$0.074$0.080$0.0079.13%
Electrical equipment, appliance and components$0.039$0.043$0.00511.96%
Transportation equipment$0.040$0.042$0.0024.88%
Furniture and related products$0.065$0.064-$0.001-1.02%
Plastics and rubber productss$0.216$0.213-$0.002-1.10%
Non-metallic mineral products$0.226$0.220-$0.006-2.65%
Wood products$0.742$0.709-$0.033-4.42%
Fabricated metal products$0.572$0.497-$0.075-13.05%
in billions $

Petroleum and coal product sales increased by nearly half a billion in April 2022. It also came in first place for percentage based increases, at 15.47%. The next highest was “chemical”, which came in at 15.12%.

5 manufacturing industries saw a decreased in month-over-month sales in April 2022, with fabricated metal products losing the most, at $75 million, a 13.05% decrease.

However, all but two sectors saw year-over-year increases.

Apr 2021Apr 2022Change% change
Petroleum and coal products$1.417$3.176$1.760124.23%
Fabricated metal products$0.394$0.497$0.10426.30%
Primary metal$0.100$0.163$0.06261.79%
Non-metallic mineral products$0.177$0.220$0.04324.09%
Plastics and rubber productss$0.175$0.213$0.03922.27%
Computer and electronic products$0.069$0.080$0.01216.73%
Furniture and related products$0.054$0.064$0.01019.02%
Electrical equipment, appliance and components$0.037$0.043$0.00717.76%
Transportation equipment$0.049$0.042-$0.006-12.84%
Wood products$0.798$0.709-$0.089-11.15%
in billions $

“Petroleum and coal products” came in first place once again. Not only that, but it was the only manufacturing sector to top $1 billion in additional sales, compared to April 2021. Its $1.760 billion difference was a 124.23% year-over-year increase.

Only “transportation equipment” and “wood products” saw a decrease over the last year.

Remember, this data is for sales value, not sales volume.

At the end of April 2021, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil was $61.91 a barrel. A year later, that price was up 59.17% to $98.54 a barrel.

Not only that, but several oil companies reported large corporate profits. For example, according to one CTV News article,

Cenovus recently announced its best first-quarter profit ever as the company raked in $1.6-billion, compared to $220-million dollars in the first quarter of last year.

Imperial Oil had its best opening quarter in 30 years as it posted profits of $1.17-billion.

Canadian Natural resources more than doubled its year-over-year first quarter numbers with a profit of $3.1-billion.

And Suncor brought home $2.95-billion in quarter one, nearly quadrupling last year’s results of $800-million.

Miljure, Ben. “Oil company profits soar as B.C. pump prices hit record highs”, CTV News, 10 May 2022.

And higher global oil prices and higher corporate profits are going to affect the price that “petroleum and coal product” manufacturers sell their products for. That doesn’t even include inflation rates not seen in over 30 years.

Just because Alberta manufacturing companies are making more money of product sales, doesn’t mean these companies are producing more products, let alone hiring more workers.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on politics and labour.

2 replies on “High oil prices and inflation driving up AB manufacturing sales”

Great detail in this article. Hope it is a monthly or at minimum quarterly regular report. Thanks

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