Canadian second quarter labor productivity drops 0.3 percent, hit by wildfires

Employees leave after a shift change at the General Motors Car assembly plant in Oshawa, June 1, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The labor productivity of Canadian businesses in the second quarter of 2016 fell by 0.3 percent, reflecting the damage caused by a major wildfire in Alberta, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

The decline - the first in a year - was slightly less than the 0.4 percent drop forecast by market analysts in a Reuters poll. The fire in May forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta and the temporary shutdown of several oil sands facilities.

Real gross domestic product of businesses fell by 0.8 percent in the second quarter after rising by 0.6 percent in the first quarter, pulled down by lower activity in the mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction sector.

The impact of the fire on that sector also helps explain why the number of hours worked on production in the business sector fell by 0.5 percent - the first decrease in two years - after rising by 0.2 percent the previous quarter, Statscan said.

Overall labor costs per unit of production rose by 0.7 percent as the average pay per hour worked climbed by 0.4 percent and productivity slipped by 0.3 percent.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama