Nova Scotia Labour Market Information: June 2021

An Update from Service Canada

Employment in Nova Scotia went down by 2.0% during Q2 2021. This was largely influenced by a province-wide lockdown imposed on April 28 that lasted throughout the month of May. All of the decrease was among full-time workers and all was in the private sector. The unemployment rate rose from 8.3% to 9.0%, and the participation rate slipped from 62.1% to 61.1%.

The quarterly labour force figures represent the average of the months of April, May, and June 2021. In April, before the lockdown, the employment level was comparable to pre-pandemic levels. In May, the number of workers declined by 22,200— or 4.8%. In June, the provincial labour market regained 13,800 jobs, amounting to about three-fifths of those lost in May.

Despite the deterioration in conditions since the previous quarter (Q1 2021), this quarter’s outcomes marked a significant improvement over those posted one year ago, in Q2 2020. During that period, employment dropped by more than 50,000 as the first round of strict containment measures were implemented in response to the initial outbreak of COVID-19 cases. Against that low baseline, employment in Q2 2021 was up by 49,300 year-over-year or 12.1%. The majority of the annual increase was in part-time work, as those positions had been shed disproportionately during the contraction one year earlier.

Despite declining by 1.3% this quarter, the labour force remained large from a historical perspective, with just over half a million participants. The working-age population expanded by 0.7% during the past year, as positive interprovincial migration trends have continued throughout the pandemic.

Similar to previous periods with stricter containment measures, females experienced a greater share of the negative labour market changes this quarter compared to their male counterparts. Compared to the previous quarter, female employment was down by 2.8%, all full-time, whereas male employment declined by just 1.1%. Factors behind this development may include the overrepresentation of females in harder-hit industries and reduced access to daycare and early learning centre spaces.

Youth (15 to 24 years of age) have also been more affected by job loss throughout the pandemic, and this quarter was no exception. While youth make up less than 14% of all employment, they comprised more than 30% of the employment decline in Q2 2021. The youth unemployment rate increased by half of a percentage point (pp) to 15.2%. The scale of this increase was limited by 2,800 youth exiting the labour force altogether.

Prime working-age individuals (25 to 54 years of age) and older workers (55 years and up) experienced less severe labour market outcomes than youth this quarter. Employment contracted by 2.0% among the prime working-age group, while the number of older workers declined by just 0.5%.

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Regional Information

Employment in the Cape Breton economic region went up by 5.1% year-over-year, all of which was full-time in nature, while the size of the labour force remained nearly-unchanged. The unemployment rate declined from 18.7% one year ago to 14.2% in Q2 2021. While labour market conditions have recovered somewhat during the past year, employment remains well below pre-pandemic levels. By industry, the largest decline occurred in the wholesale and retail trade industry, while the public administration industry gained the largest number of workers.

The North Shore economic region added 10,000 workers over the past year, nearly reaching pre-pandemic employment levels. The labour force also expanded, but at a slower pace, adding 6,600 individuals. The net result of these changes was a 5.6p.p. reduction in the unemployment rate, which fell from 13.1% to 7.5%. The majority of industries in the North Shore region posted strong job growth compared with Q2 2020, when the shutdown occurred during the first wave of the pandemic. Three exceptions were the construction, educational services, and accommodation and food services industries, which experienced employment declines.

In the Annapolis Valley economic region, the unemployment rate slipped from 12.2% to 8.5% on an annual basis as the number of people employed went up by 8,900. The majority of the added employment was in full-time positions, and nearly all was in the services-producing sector. The participation rate rose to 59.2%—the second-highest in the province after Halifax—as 7,600 people joined the labour force. By industry, the largest employment increases were in the wholesale and retail trade and health care and social assistance industries.

Employment in the Southern economic region reached 52,200 this quarter, an increase of 5,100 from one year prior and more than before the pandemic struck. Of the workers added during the past year, nine out of ten were in part-time positions. The unemployment rate declined to 7.0%, which was 5.3p.p. lower than during Q2 2020. As in other regions, most industries experienced strong job growth over the past year as they recovered from last year’s lockdown.

The Halifax economic region added 22,400 jobs year-over-year, of which approximately three-quarters were full-time in nature. Despite the strong improvement from one year earlier, employment fell somewhat short of pre-pandemic levels. The unemployment rate remained elevated at 8.8%, but was down by 3p.p. year-over-year. The working-age population of Halifax expanded by 1.8% over the past year, reflecting a high level of net migration. Job growth was led by the professional, scientific and technical services industry, which has been a strong performer provincially and is heavily concentrated in this region. Exceptionally strong employment increases also occurred in the construction and transportation and warehousing industries.

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Prepared by: Labour Market Analysis Directorate, Service Canada, Atlantic Region
For further information: please contact the LMI team
For information on the Labour Force Survey: please visit the Statistics Canada Website