Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS)

Industrial Summary

Miscellaneous Manufacturing

NAICS 3391; 3399

This industry comprises establishments not classified in any other manufacturing industries. These establishments manufacture a diverse range of products, including medical equipment and supplies (such as blood transfusion equipment, surgical instruments, dental equipment, eyeglasses, contact lenses, prosthetics and wheel chairs) and miscellaneous products (such as jewellery and silverware, sporting and athletic goods, toys and games, and office supplies). Miscellaneous products are the largest of the two segments, accounting for two-thirds of production in 2016. Overall, about 50% of the industry’s production is shipped to foreign countries, primarily to the United States which account for 75% of exports. The industry employed 107,300 workers in 2016 (6.3% of total manufacturing employment), with 80% in miscellaneous products and 20% in medical equipment and supplies. Employment is mostly concentrated in Ontario (56%), Quebec (21%) and British Columbia (10%), and the workforce is mainly composed of men (63%). Key occupations (4-digit NOC) include:

  • Other products assemblers, finishers and inspectors (9537)
  • Supervisors, other products manufacturing and assembly (9227)
  • Other labourers in processing, manufacturing and utilities (9619)
  • Dental technologists, technicians and laboratory assistants (3223)
  • Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health) (3219)
  • Denturists (3221)

* Key occupations for manufacturing industries in general also include: Manufacturing managers (0911); Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics (7311); Material handlers (7452); Shippers and receivers (1521); Transport truck drivers (7511); Industrial engineering and manufacturing technologists and technicians (2233); Industrial electricians (7242); and Industrial and manufacturing engineers (2141).

Since the products manufactured by the industry are largely utilized by consumers and businesses, production is primarily tied to household consumption and business spending. Furthermore, many of the industry’s products can be classified as recreational or leisure goods, making demand for such products very sensitive to discretionary expenditures and business cycles. As a result, production and employment in the industry fell markedly during the global recession of 2008-2009, reflecting lower demand for products in the miscellaneous segment due to rapid declines in discretionary income and corporate profits. In contrast, demand for medical equipment and supplies remained steady due to the indispensable nature of medical products and the fact that the need for health care is immune from cyclical fluctuations in economic conditions. After straightening modestly in 2010, production in the miscellaneous segment remained tepid in subsequent years, leaving the industry’s output in 2016 well below its pre-recession level. During that period, growing household debt and weak business confidence continued to restrain discretionary spending. This resulted into negative output growth from 2007 to 2016, with real GDP contracting at an average rate of 1.4% annually. In contrast, employment increased by 1.4% per year, with most of the gains occurring in 2015 and 2016 as a result of stronger exports, spurred by the lower value of the Canadian dollar. Negative growth in productivity primarily reflects softer capital spending in the industry over the past decade and the fact that a large number of firms are highly labour intensive.

Over the projection period, renewed growth in the industry’s output is expected to be primarily driven by growing demand for medical products and stronger exports. The relatively low value of the Canadian dollar should help the industry to stay competitive on export markets, particularly in the United States. It is also expected to encourage domestic sales by increasing import prices and to remain competitive relative to low cost countries, particularly China which accounts for the largest share of Canadian imports of recreational and leisure products. Medical equipment is projected to be a major contributor to output growth as population aging is expected to lead to stronger demand for health care. Canadian firms have unique expertise in developing and producing the latest health-related equipment and are well positioned to take advantage of growing market opportunities, particularly in developed countries planning to improve their health care infrastructure. On the negative side, the industry will be challenged by the fact that growth in consumer spending is projected to weaken progressively due to slower growth in disposable income (resulting from the gradual slowdown in overall employment growth in Canada and massive retirements of baby-boomers). High consumer debt levels and the gradual increase anticipated in interest rates are also expected to put pressures on household budgets, restraining discretionary spending on recreational and leisure products. Uncertainty about the renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) represents an additional risk to the industry’s outlook, given the significant amount of exports to the United States. Nevertheless, real GDP growth is projected to return to positive territory over the period 2017-2026, averaging 1.7% annually. Renewed growth in production is expected to result in further, albeit slower, gains in employment, with job creation averaging 0.7 per year. The slower pace of growth in employment relative to the period 2007-2016 refects a turnaround in productivity, as improved business conditions shoud lead to greater capital spending over the next ten years. The industry is expected to make increasing use of additive manufacturing, which refers to technologies that synthetise three-dimensional objects. Such technologies have the potential to be applied to a wide range of products, enhancing productivity in the industry.

Real GDP and Employment Growth Rates in Miscellaneous Manufacturing

Figure showing the annual growth of real GDP and employment over the periods 2007-2016 and 2017-2026 for the industry of Miscellaneous Manufacturing . The data is shown on the table following this figure

Source: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2017 COPS industrial scenario (projections).

Text Version of Figure Real GDP and Employment Growth Rates in Miscellaneous Manufacturing , 2007-2016 and 2017-2026, in Percent
  Real GDP Employment
2007-2016 -1.4 1.4
2017-2026 1.7 0.7

Source: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2017 COPS industrial scenario (projections).

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