Nova Scotia Labour Market Information: November 2020

An Update from Service Canada

Employment in Nova Scotia rose for the seventh consecutive month in November. There were 10,000 more persons employed, representing an increase of 1,700 jobs compared with November of last year. Nova Scotia has regained nearly all of the jobs shed in March and April when the most severe restrictions connected to the pandemic were introduced. The majority of jobs gained in November were in full-time work.

Higher levels of employment in the province resulted in a fall in the unemployment rate to 6.4% in November from 8.7% in October. This was the lowest unemployment rate in 20 months, and currently the lowest unemployment rate among provinces in Canada. The unemployment rate nationally was 8.5%. Nova Scotia’s participation rates have not fully recovered, however, and are roughly one percentage point lower than their levels last year (61.1% in November compared with 62.4% last November). There also remains an elevated number of persons not in the labour force that wanted to work compared with February, before the provincial restrictions came into effect.

Employment levels remain particularly weak for youth (aged 15-24 years). November data suggest there are 4,900 fewer youth working compared with last November and the drop in youth employment was all in part-time work. Over the past year, 7,500 youth have left the labour force and were no longer searching for work. With fewer youth searching for work, the youth unemployment rate has fallen to 10.7% compared with 13.0% last November.

Among other broad age groups, the number of employed prime age workers (25-54 years of age) has surpassed levels from a year ago, with nearly 10,000 more people employed. The unemployment rate for prime age workers fell to 4.9% in November, the lowest on record. Employment among older workers (55 years of age and over) declined by 3,200, resulting in a rise in the unemployment rate to 7.9%, up from 6.2% last November.

Compared with a year ago, labour market gains were similar among women and men in Nova Scotia. Employment increased among females and males in November and has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Though labour force participation rates had declined for both women and men over the past year, they declined by a similar amount: 1.3 points and 1.4 points, respectively.

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Regional Information

The Halifax economic region was the only economic region to experience higher employment levels compared with November 2019. In the Cape Breton economic region, there were 2,100 fewer persons employed compared with last November. The decline in employment was all in full-time work. A large number of persons left the labour force and with fewer persons searching for work the unemployment rate declined to 11.4%. Among industries, the largest employment decline was in accommodation and food services. The Halifax and Cape Breton regions experienced the greatest decline in tourism because of the pandemic.

In the North Shore economic region, the number of persons employed fell by 2,800 compared with last November. Much of the decline was in full-time work. A large number of persons also left the labour force over this period and, as a result of fewer people looking for work, the unemployment rate declined to 5.9%. Among industries, the largest employment decline occurred in wholesale and retail trade.

The Annapolis Valley economic region experienced the largest decline in employment among economic regions with 3,500 fewer persons employed compared with last November. A large number of persons also left the labour force over this period and, as a result of fewer people looking for work, the unemployment rate declined to 5.1%. The drop in employment was concentrated in the wholesale and retail trade industry though the construction and accommodation and food services industries also experienced large declines. Employment was higher by 700 in the agriculture industry. The region has a large share of workers in this industry and has benefitted from relatively good weather and strong demand for some agricultural products this season.

Employment levels remained stable in the Southern economic region compared with last November though some people left the labour force. As a result of fewer persons looking for work, the unemployment rate declined to 9.6%, down from 10.3% last November. Among industries, the largest employment decline occurred in manufacturing, which includes seafood processors. Low demand for seafood products has negatively affected seafood processors.

Employment in the Halifax economic region has continued to improve since June 2020, with 1,600 more persons employed compared with last November. With more people working, the region’s unemployment rate declined to 6.4%, just slightly above the rate of 6.2% last November. Halifax was the only economic region to see significant population and labour force growth over the past year. The professional, scientific and technical services, education services, and other services industries have experienced the largest employment growth over the year though a number of sectors have experienced declines including wholesale and retail trade and health care and social assistance. The health care and social assistance industry experienced large employment increases in the second half of 2019 though the industry continues to be challenged by budget constraints and shortages of some health professionals.

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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