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Canadian economy contracted 5.4% in 2020, worst year on record

Worst year on record

The Canadian economy posted its worst showing on record in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country, shutting down businesses and putting millions out of work.

Statistics Canada says real gross domestic product shrank 5.4 per cent in 2020, the steepest annual decline since comparable data was first recorded in 1961.

The drop for the year was due to the shutdown of large swaths of the economy in March and April during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic that crushed the economy.

Since then, economic activity has slowly and steadily grown.

Statistics Canada says the economy grew at an annualized rate of 9.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, down from an annualized growth rate of 40.6 per cent in the third quarter.

That was higher than expected, with financial data firm Refinitiv's average economist estimate at 7.5 per cent.

However, despite the better-than-expected result for the quarter as a whole, December eked out a 0.1 per cent increase, which followed a 0.8 per cent increase in November.

Statistics Canada noted that total economic activity in December was about three per cent below the pre-pandemic level in February 2020.

Looking ahead to January, Statistics Canada said its early estimate was for growth in the economy of 0.5 per cent.

It said wholesale trade, manufacturing and construction sectors led the increase, while retail trade fell to start the year.



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