Statistics Canada says first quarter GDP worst showing since 2009

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OTTAWA _ Statistics Canada says the economy in the first quarter had its worst showing since 2009 as steps taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 forced businesses across the country to close their doors and lay off workers.

Statistics Canada says gross domestic product fell at an annualized rate of 8.2 per cent in the first three months of 2020.

The collapse came as gross domestic product for March fell 7.2 per cent as restrictions by public health officials began rolling out during the month, including school closures, border shutdowns and travel restrictions.

Events earlier in the quarter also had a drag on GDP with Statistics Canada pointing to the Ontario teachers' strike and rail blockades in February, as well as a drop in oil prices.

Household spending was down 2.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, the steepest quarterly drop ever recorded.

The average economist estimate had been for a nine per cent drop in gross domestic product for March, while the average estimate for the first quarter as a whole is for a GDP pullback at a annualized pace of 10 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020.