The great recession is still going strong, at least in Canada’s battered manufacturing sector.

With many industries starting to show signs of life, Canada’s manufacturing sector — particularly autos — appears stuck in reverse with sales falling a whopping six per cent in May to the lowest level in more than a decade.

Statistics Canada reported yesterday that plant shutdowns in the motor vehicle and primary metal industries, along with continued volatility in the aerospace sector, accounted for most of the decline.

Although auto production is certain to bounce back when the July numbers are revealed due to the return to production of Chrysler plants — which were shut down for most of May and June — economists are concerned about the general weakness of the manufacturing industry.

“Manufacturing looks like it might be one of the last sectors to come out of the recession,” said Benjamin Reitzes, an economist with BMO Capital Markets.

“There’s weakness across the board. We’re not going to see big gains until U.S. demand picks up and, with U.S. consumers saving more money than before, that’s less spent on goods and a lot of those came from Canada.”

Scotiabank economists Derek Holt and Karen Cordes noted that the outsized fall will have the impact of pulling down gross domestic product for the second quarter, but with Chrysler getting back to work at the end of June, it will also mean a higher bounce for the third quarter that began in July.

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