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TORONTO-Canada’s industrial capacity utilization rates dropped to 69.3% in Q1, according to a report released June 30 by Statistics Canada. The company, a division of Reed Construction Data, says the manufacturing rate was even lower at 65.9%. Among six industry aggregates, only oil and gas extraction registered an increase in capacity usage. Among nine sub-categories, of durables manufacturing, none showed gains.

The category with the lowest capacity utilization rate was transportation equipment at 42.5%. The company attributes this to plant closings and temporary shutdowns in the auto making and parts sectors. Other low-scoring categories included mining at 55.3% and the construction industry at 71.8% of capacity.

The last was down from 75.3% the quarter before and 79% a year earlier. In addition to the failure to show gains, only three sub-sectors recorded utilization rates above 80%: the computer and electronic products sector at 83.3% of capacity; food manufacturing at 81.3%; and electric power production at 80.8%. The last, however, was down from 88.1% in Q1 2008, as the recession took a toll on electricity demand.

According to Statistics Canada, the low numbers underscore poor prospects for industrial construction this year. The latest forecast from CanaData, another Reed division headquartered in Markham, ON, calls for 4 million square feet to break ground in ’09. Industrial starts for next year are projected at 6 million square feet.

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