Monthly Survey of Manufacturing (MSM)

Detailed information for December 2000





Record number:


The Monthly Survey of Manufacturing (MSM) publishes statistical series for manufacturers -- shipments, inventories, unfilled orders and new orders.

Data release - February 19, 2001


The values (in Canadian dollars) of shipments, inventories and orders are used as indicators of the economic condition of manufacturing industries; as inputs to Canada's Gross Domestic Product; as two components in the Statistics Canada composite indicator; as input to macro- and micro-economic studies and in econometric models (eg. to determine market share, apparent domestic availability, etc.). Data are used by both the private and public sectors including finance departments of the federal and provincial governments, the Bank of Canada, Industry Canada, the System of National Accounts, the manufacturing community, consultants and research organizations in Canada, the United States and abroad, and the business press.

Reference period: Month


  • Manufacturing

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population consists of incorporated and non-incorporated establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing.

Instrument design

The design of the MSM questionnaire, which dates back over 15 years, is meant to collect major indicators of the economic activity of the manufacturing sector. The development of the questionnaire took into account the ability of respondents to provide the requested type of data.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

Since 1999, Statistics Canada's Business Register provides the sampling frame for the Monthly Survey of Manufacturing (MSM). The target population for the MSM consists of all statistical establishments on the business register that are classified to the manufacturing sector. The sampling frame for the MSM is determined from the target population after subtracting establishments that represent the bottom 2% of the total manufacturing shipments estimate for each province. These establishments are excluded from the frame so that the sample size can be reduced without significantly affecting quality.

The MSM sample is a representative sample comprised of approximately 11,000 establishments.

Prior to selection, the sampling frame is subdivided into industry-province cells. For the most part, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes are used. Depending upon the number of establishments within each cell, further subdivisions are made to group similar sized establishments together (called stratum). An establishment's size is based on its most recently available annual shipments or sales value.

Each industry by province cell has a 'take-all' stratum composed of establishments sampled each month with certainty. This 'take-all' stratum is composed of establishments that are the largest statistical enterprises, and have the largest impact on estimates within a particular industry by province cell. These large statistical enterprises are found in the top 45% of the national manufacturing shipment estimates.

Each industry - province cell can have at most three 'take some' stratums. Not all establishments within these stratums need to be sampled with certainty. A random sample is drawn from the remaining strata. The responses from these sampled establishments are weighted according to the inverse of their probability of selection.

An initial sample was drawn in 1998, when the survey was converted to NAICS. This sample is refreshed each month by including a sample of the birth in the population. Every three years, all establishments in the sample are re-stratified to take into account changes in their value of shipments, dead units are removed from the sample and some small units are rotated out, while others are rotated into the sample.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Basic collection, data capture, preliminary edit and follow-up of non-respondents are primarily performed by staff in the Statistics Canada regional offices. Sampled companies are contacted either by mail or telephone, whichever they prefer. Data capture and preliminary editing are performed simultaneously to ensure the validity of the data. Companies from which no response has been received or whose data may contain errors, are followed-up immediately.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

There are edits built into the data capture application to compare the entered data against unusual values, as well as to check for logical inconsistencies. Whenever an edit fails, the interviewer is prompted to correct the information (with the help of the respondent when necessary). For most edit failures the interviewer has the ability to override the edit failure if they cannot resolve the apparent discrepancy.

Once the data are received back at head office, an extensive series of processing steps are undertaken to thoroughly verify each record received. Edits are performed at a more aggregate level (industry by geographic level) to detect records which deviate from the expected, either by exhibiting large month-to-month change, or differing significantly from the remaining establishments. All data failing these edits are subject to manual inspection and possible corrective action.


Imputation is required for each characteristic in the constant sample panel for which no report has been received. These are calculated automatically, subject to certain constraints, by applying to previously used values, the month-to-month and year-to-year changes in similar values of responding firms.


Estimates are monthly projections of Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) benchmark values, based on returns from a sample of manufacturing establishments. The survey includes all large manufacturing establishments in each industry in each province and samples of medium sized and small ones. Combined reports from multi-unit companies are pro-rated among their establishments and adjustments for progress billings reflect revenues received for work done on large item contracts. While shipments estimates are produced by province, no geographical detail is compiled for inventories and orders since many firms cannot report book values of these items monthly.

Industry values of shipments, inventories and unfilled orders are estimated by weighting the responses and imputations by the number of establishments each represents, summing them and adjusting the totals by a previously determined constant (i.e. the ratio of census-derived industry benchmark values to the sum of the weighted sample responses for the benchmark period). New orders series by industry are derived by adding the change in unfilled orders over a period to shipments within that period.

Quality evaluation

The final data sets are subject to rigorous analysis that includes comparison to historical series and comparisons to other sources of data in order to put the economic changes in context. Information available from the media, other government organizations and economic think tanks is also used in the validation process.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Confidentiality analysis includes the detection of possible direct disclosure, which occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of a few respondents or when the cell is dominated by a few companies.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Monthly, preliminary estimates are provided for the reference month with revised estimates, based on late responses, for the previous 3 months. Annually, benchmarking to the Annual Survey of Manufactures necessitates revisions to monthly data back to January of the benchmark year. The estimates are revised annually in accordance with the latest available data from the ASM.

Data accuracy

While considerable effort is made to ensure high standards throughout all stages of collection and processing, the resulting estimates are inevitably subject to a certain degree of non-sampling error. Non-sampling error is not related to sampling and may occur for many reasons. For example, non-response is an important source of non-sampling error. Population coverage, differences in the interpretations of questions and mistakes in recording, coding and processing data are other examples of non-sampling errors.

Non-sampling errors are controlled through a careful design of the questionnaire, the use of a minimal number of simple concepts and consistency checks. Measures such as response rates are used as indicators of the possible extent of non-sampling errors.

The average weighted response rates for the MSM are 97.9% for shipments.

Sampling error can be measured by the standard error (or standard deviation) of the estimate. The coefficient of variation (CV) is the estimated standard error percentage of the survey estimate. Estimates with smaller CVs are more reliable than estimates with larger CVs. The CVs for the Monthly Survey of Manufacturing are included in the concepts and definitions link of each Daily release.


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