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Manufacturing shipments up

Manitoba was one of only four provinces to post an increase in manufacturing shipments in the first month of 2014, Statistics Canada figures show.

The agency said Tuesday Manitoba factories shipped out $1.26 billion worth of goods during the month. That was an increase of 1.6 per cent from December's total of $1.24 billion.

Although January's tally was an improvement from the previous month, it still fell 0.4 per cent short of January 2013's total of $1.27 billion.

Quebec saw the biggest month-over-month increase, at 4.4 per cent. Alberta was a close second at 4.3 per cent. British Columbia was the only other province to see a monthly gain, at 3.3 per cent.

Nationally, Canada's manufacturing industry recorded its biggest monthly increase since February last year, with sales climbing by 1.5 per cent to $50.4 billion from $49.6 billion in December. The year-over-year gain was five per cent.

Statistics Canada said the monthly increase mostly reflected higher sales in the primary metal, food and miscellaneous industries.

It said sales were up in 12 of 21 industries, representing about 46 per cent of the manufacturing sector sales in January.

More unemployed, fewer vacant jobs

There were fewer unfilled jobs and more unemployed workers in Manitoba in the final three months of 2013, according to new Statistics Canada figures.

The agency said Tuesday Manitoba businesses reported an average of 8,900 vacant positions in the quarter, which was down from 9,200 in the final three months of 2012.

At the same time, the average number of unemployed workers increased to 34,700 from 31,800.

The combination of more unemployed workers and fewer vacant positions boosted the province's unemployment-to-job-vacancies ratio for the quarter to 3.9 from 3.5. That meant there were 3.9 unemployed workers for every vacant job.

Alberta boasted the lowest ratio, with 2.3 unemployed workers for every vacant job. Saskatchewan was a close second, with a ratio of 2.4, while Prince Edward Island had the highest ratio at 20.2.

Nationally, the ratio climbed to 6.3 from 5.7 after the number of vacant jobs fell to 199,700 from 220,800 a year earlier and there was little change in the number of unemployed workers -- 1.25 million versus 1.26 million.


GM CEO sorry for late recall

DETROIT -- The top executive of General Motors apologized for deaths linked to the delayed recall of 1.6 million small cars, saying the company took too long to tell owners to bring the cars in for repairs.

Faced with a crisis just months into the job, CEO Mary Barra has put herself front and centre in the company's efforts to take responsibility for mishandling a defect with ignition switches in small cars, and to ward off a threat to its sales and reputation. She named a new head of global safety, one day after telling employees GM is pushing to resolve safety issues more quickly.

Barra, who met Tuesday with reporters for the first time since last month's recall, stopped short of saying the company would compensate families of those killed in crashes caused by faulty ignition switches. But she said GM would do what's right for customers after it completes an internal investigation, which she expects to take about seven months to finish.

"I am very sorry for the loss of life that occurred, and we will take every step to make sure this never happens again," she said.

Barra is trying to distance the GM she now runs from the pre-bankruptcy company that buried the problem in bureaucracy. The company has acknowledged it learned about the problem switches at least 11 years ago, yet it failed to recall the cars until last month. Barra is likely to testify next month before two congressional committees investigating the recall. There, she's sure to face questions about what went wrong at the old GM.

The U.S. Justice Department also is investigating whether any laws were broken in the way GM handled the recall.


-- staff / from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 19, 2014 B7

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