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For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

October 11, 2019

Nova Scotia's seasonally adjusted employment level was up 3,200 in September to 466,900.  Employment is 10,000 higher than it was last September.

Nova Scotia's employment increase follows the previous month increase of 1,500 and a decline of 6,200 in July. Compared to August, Nova Scotia’s labour force decreased by 500 to 503,000 in September. With an employment increase and a labour force decline the number of unemployed declined by 3,700 persons. The unemployment rate was down 0.7 percentage points to 7.2 per cent in September.


In September, full-time employment increased by 4,400 while part-time employment was down 1,300 persons.  Note: Changes in part-time and full-time employment can include the net impacts of changing hours of work within the same position. 

Monthly employment gains in September reflected a rise in private sector employment (+3,100) and self-employed (+1,000) partially offset by a decline in public sector work (-900).  Monthly employment in September was up 600 in goods industries and 2,500 in service sectors.  Private sector employment in Nova Scotia is over 300,000 for the first time on record.

The year-over-year increase in employment includes an increase of 6,800 in full-time employment and an increase of 3,200 in part time employment. The unemployment rate was down 0.4 percentage points compared to September 2018.

Comparing the first nine months of 2019 with the same months in 2018, the labour force grew by 7,300 (1.5%) while employment was up by 11,000 (2.4%). This pushed the year-to-date average unemployment rate down from 7.7 per cent in Jan-Sept 2018 to 6.9 per cent in Jan-Sep 2019.



Age Cohorts

After rising unemployment rates last month, unemployment rates declined for all age cohorts. In September 2019, the monthly unemployment rate for the 15-24 age cohort decreased 2.1 percentage points to 13.6 per cent. The unemployment rate for the 25-54 year old age cohort decreased 0.5 percentage points to 6.0 per cent, and for those aged 55 years and older, the unemployment rate declined 0.6 percentage points to 6.1 per cent.

Age Cohort: Year-to-Date

Comparing the first nine months of 2019 with the same months in 2018, the youth cohort (aged 15-24) saw a decline in population (-100) along with  an increase in labour force (+2,800)  an increase in employment (4,700) .  The decline in the number of unemployed (-1,900) resulted in the unemployment rate for 15-24-year olds declining 3.2 percentage points to 13.3 per cent on average over the first nine months of 2019.

Within the 25-54 age cohort, population growth (+1,400) was consistent with the increase in labour force (+1,900).  Faster growth in employment among core aged workers (+3,500) reduced unemployment in this age cohort (-1,600). This resulted in the unemployment rate decreasing 0.6 percentage points over last year to 5.6 per cent in Jan-Sep 2019.

In year to date terms, older workers (55+) reported increases in population (+6,700), labour force (+2,600) and employment (+2,700).  Employment grew slightly faster than labour force, reducing the number of unemployed (-100). The unemployment rate for older workers declined 0.3 percentage points over last year to an average of 6.3 per cent in Jan-Sep 2019.  





Males and Females

The male participation rate declined 0.5 percentage points to 64.6 per cent in September 2019. The participation rate for females was up 0.2 percentage points to 59.8 per cent, the highest rate since September 2013.

For September 2019, employment increased by 1,200 among males and increased by 1,900 among females compared to last month.  The labour force was down by 1,300 among males and increased 800 among females. The male unemployment rate declined to to 8.0 per cent and the female unemployment rate to 6.4 per cent.

 Males and Females: Year-to-date

For the first nine months of 2019, the male population has increased by 4,300. The male labour force has increased by 1,200 while employment among males has increased by 4,500. The larger increase in employment than labour force resulted in the unemployment rate among males declining by 1.4 percentage points to 8.0 per cent for the Jan-Sep. 2019 period.

For Jan-Sep 2019 compared to Jan-Sep 2018, female labour force (+6,100) and employment (+6,400) gain outpaced population growth (+3,700). With employment rising faster than labour force, the unemployment rate among females declined 0.3 percentage points to average 5.7 per cent for Jan-Sep. 2019.




Sectors – Year to Date

Looking at the results by class of worker for the first nine months of 2019, employment increases for the private sector (11,000) and the public sector (3,300) more than outweigh the decline in self-employment (-3,400). Over the first nine months of 2019, Nova Scotia averaged 293,200 private sector employees, 115,400 public sector employees, and 57,300 in self-employment.

Among goods-producing sectors, the first nine months of 2019, saw employment increases in Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas (+2,200) as well as Construction (+1,100) and Agriculture (+700). Manufacturing employment was mostly unchanged while utilities employment declined (-200).

Services-producing industries averaged 7,100 more jobs compared to the first nine months of 2018. The largest increases come from Health care and social assistance (+5,000), Wholesale/Retail Trade (+2,500), as well as Information, culture and recreation (+1,100). The largest declines came from Other services (-1,600), Business, building and other support services (-900), and Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing (-700).

Regions – Year-to-Date (unadjusted 3-month moving average)

Compared with the first nine months of 2018, Cape Breton employment is up (+1,500) while the labour force increased by 1,600.  Year-to-date unemployment has averaged 100 higher than in Jan-Sep 2018. The unemployment rate was mostly unchanged at 14.5 per cent in Jan-Sep 2018 and 14.4 per cent in Jan-Sep 2019.

For the North Shore region, the labour force decreased by 600 while employment increased by 1,100.  With labour force declining and employment growing, the number of unemployed declined by 1,800. This caused a 2.3 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate from 9.4 per cent to 7.1 per cent.

The Annapolis Valley reported an increase of 600 in employment along with an increase of 200 in the labour force. Unemployment declined 500 and the net result was a decline in the average unemployment rate by 0.8 percentage points to 6.8 per cent.

The Southern region had a decrease of 400 in employment along with an unchanged labour force. The unemployment rate has increased 0.7 percentage points to 7.7 per cent so far in 2019.

Halifax experienced an increase of 8,100 in employment along with an increase of 5,600 in the labour force. With unemployment declining by 2,400, there was a decrease of 1.1 percentage points in the unemployment rate to 5.2 per cent in Halifax. 


Provincial Comparisons

The Nova Scotia unemployment rate was 7.2 per cent in September 2019 a decline of 0.4 percentage points from a year ago. The Canadian unemployment rate was 5.5 per cent, lower by 0.3 percentage points compared to one year ago.

Seven provinces reported lower unemployment rates compared to a year ago with Prince Edward Island (+0.2 percentage points), New Brunswick (+0.5 percentage points), and British Columbia (+0.6 percentage points) reporting increases. The lowest unemployment rate among the provinces this month was in Quebec and British Columbia (4.8 per cent) while the highest was in Newfoundland and Labrador (11.5 per cent).



Employment was up in all provinces in year to date terms. The largest gains in percentage terms was seen in British Columbia (+3.2%), Ontario (+2.7%) and Nova Scotia (+2.4%). Nationally, employment has risen 2.2 per cent comparing Jan-Sep 2019 with Jan-Sep 2018.


National Comparisons: Cities (Monthly)

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the Halifax Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in September 2019 was 5.7 per cent (3 month moving average). Québec, Quebec (3.0 per cent) had the lowest unemployment rate among CMAs while the highest was in the St. John, New Brunswick (7.9 per cent).

The seasonally adjusted employment rate for the Halifax was 64.7 per cent, down 0.6 percentage points compared to last month. Trois-Rivieres, Quebec (54.6 per cent) had the lowest employment rate, while Calgary, Alberta (68.8 per cent) had the highest.


Halifax’s employment (3 month moving average) for September 2019 had a 0.7 per cent decline compared to the August 2019 result. The largest gain among CMAs was in Ottawa-Gatineau where employment was up 1.6 per cent. 


Note: Seasonally adjusted, 3 month average.

With the January 2019 Labour Force Survey release, Statistics Canada has changed the processing systems that is used to impute data of incomplete records of the survey. Statistics Canada notes that for most LFS estimates the difference from the new system will be small, but some areas could be impacted such as part-time employment and employment by firm size. The transition is being monitored and historical revisions of series maybe made in the future. For more details, see Transition of Labour Force Survey Data Processing to the Social Survey Processing Environment (SSPE)

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