Labour Force Survey: Highlights & Impact of Covid-19

Labour Force Survey, May 2021: Nova Scotia Highlights and Summary of Labour Impact of COVID-19


One week after the April reference week of Labour Force Survey (April 11 to 17), Nova Scotia entered a province-wide shutdown on April 28, closing non-essential retail stores and moving all schools to remote learning. Provincial border restrictions were further tightened on May 10. 

This issue of the Labour Market Information News monitors the impact of this lockdown caused by the third wave, using the June Labour Force Survey (reflecting the market conditions as of the week of May 9 to 15 and the comparison to the week of April 11 to 17).

Snapshot of Nova Scotia’s Labour Market in April 2021(1)
Compared to April 2021

Nova Scotia’s labour market took another hit from the third wave of COVID pandemic in May, losing all the recovery progress achieved since the second round of tightening restrictions in December 2020. While the tightened health restrictions are comparable to the ones adopted during the onset of COVID pandemic during March and April last year, the impact was greatly reduced by comparison

1.	Image indicating Labour Force: 492,100 a decline of -15,100 with a red arrow pointing down.

  • 15,100 people left the labour market in May, with labour force contracted by 3%.

2.	Image indicating Employment: 443,700 a decline of -22,200 with a red arrow pointing down

  • 22,200 Nova Scotians lost their jobs last month. Part-time employment was hit harder, dropping by -11.1% (9,600 jobs). Full-time employment dropped by 3.3%, accounting for 12,700 jobs.

3.	Image indicating Unemployment Rate: 9.8% an increase of +1.7 points with a red arrow pointing up.

  • One third of people who lost jobs kept looking for employment opportunities while the rest dropped out of labour force. As a result, unemployment increased by 7,200 and the unemployment rate rose by 1.7 percentage points in May.

4.	Image indicating Employment Rate: 54.2% a decline of -2.8 points with a red arrow pointing down.

  • The employment rate dropped by 2.8 points in May, returning to the September 2020 level.

The Employment Impact of Third COVID Lockdown
Compared to the first lockdown (March & April 2020)

  • The labour impact of COVID lockdown was again felt unevenly by different demographic groups. Women, youth, people with part-time jobs and people working in service industries were more likely to lose jobs last month.

5.	Chart Titled: Employment Loss During Third Covid Lockdown (Apr-May 2021) with visuals by male/female; age 15-24, 25-54, 55+; Full-time/part-time; and goods sector/service sector. Showing by number and by percentage. Details in text below.

  • Youth employment dropped by 13.4% while the older groups dropped by 4% or less. This sets the youth employment recovery back by a big step to almost 18% lower than its pre-COVID level.
  • People with part-time jobs and people working in service industries were hit hard again. Part-time employment contracted by 11%, accounting for 9,600 workers. 95% of job loss occurred in service sector, most of them in Wholesale and Retail Trade (6,700 jobs), Educational Services (6,700 jobs) and Accommodation and Food services (3,400 jobs).

Industry Impacts

6.	Chart Titled: Top Impacted Industries by Employment Loss, Feb 2020-May 2021. Information, culture and recreation -5600, -30.4%. Accommodation and food services -13000, -34.6%. Wholesale and retail trade -15300, -19.1%.

  • One month of the province-wide lockdown has set the employment recovery of service sector further back from from 1.5% to 7.1% lower than its pre-COVID level. The industries that were furtherst away from their pre-COVID levels remain Wholesale and Retail Trade (15,300 jobs), Accommodation and Food services (13,000 jobs), and Information, Culture and Recreation (5,600 jobs).

Economic Region

  • Employment in Nova Scotia’s five economic regions showed variable results, compared to pre-COVID levels.(2)

7.	Chart Titled: Employment Recovery Progress by Economic Region, Feb 2020-May 2021. Southern 3300, 6.8%; Halifax 24000, 1.0%; Annapolis Valley 800, 1.4%; North Shore 200, 0.3%; Cape Breton -6900, -13.5%.
*Note: The regional statistics is 3-month moving average and seasonally unadjusted. Therefore, it is not comparable to the statistics used in the rest of the report and there is a delay in data showing the impact of lockdown.

  • With evidence pointing to a larger impact of the third lockdown in Halifax economic region in May, Southern region replaces Halifax in leading the recovery. It employed 3,300 more people in May compared to its pre-COVID levels (+6.8%).
  • Cape Breton was furthest away from its pre-COVID employment level with 6,900 fewer jobs (-13.5%). That region began to recover slowly in the last two months after a 5-month streak of declining employment levels since November 2020.

Lockdown Comparison

8.	Chart Titled: The Labour Impact of COVID, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Lockdown showing employment and unemployment rate by month for each lockdown period.

  • The third lockdown & the second province-wide lockdown from the end of April to May 2021 brought less impact on the labour market than the first lockdown during March and April 2020. Employment loss amounts to 22,200 (-4.8%) in the last month, less than one-third of the employment loss experienced during the onset of pandemic.
  • Unemployment rate rose by 1.7 percentage points last month, larger than the second lockdown but smaller than the first lockdown.


Labour Market Outcomes of Visible Minorities in Atlantic Canada in May 2021(3)

Chart showing unemployment rate and employment rates for visible minorities and not indigenous or a visible minority.

  • Visible minorities in Atlantic Canada were more likely to find employment than people who are not a visible minority or indigenous in May.
  • The employment rate of visible minorities remained at 71% while the employment rate of people who are not visible minorities rose by 1.4 percentage points in the last month.


The next Labour Force Survey will be released on July 9th, covering the June labour market.


(1) Source: Statistics Canada, Table 14-10-0287-01, Adjusted for Seasonality, Both Sexes, Ages 15+.
(2) Source: Statistics Canada, Table 14-10-0388-01, three-month moving average, unadjusted for seasonality.

(3) Source: Statistics Canada, May 2021 LFS population groups designated visible minorities.

Was this page helpful?