Labour Force Survey: Highlights & Impact of Covid-19

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


August saw Nova Scotians’ combined effort and success in containing the spread of COVID-19. With vaccination rate still below the target 75%, Nova Scotia remained in Phase 4 of the reopening plan. The economy continued to recover and expand within the health restrictions.

This issue of the Labour Market Information News monitors the recovery progress in August. The September Labour Force Survey references the week of August 15 to 21 and compares it to the week of July 11 to 17 (during which Phase 4 came into effect).

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

Blue box showing Labour Force: 504,600, +1300 with a green arrow pointing up.

  • Labour force edged up to 504,600, with 1,300 more people entering the labour market. The overall labour participation is still 1.1 percentage points lower than February 2020 with a wider gap observed among youth (-4.4 points).

Blue box showing Employment: 465100, +3900 with a green arrow pointing up.

Blue box showing Unemployment Rate: 7.8%, -0.6 percentage points with a green arrow pointing down.

  • Nova Scotia’s unemployment rate dropped another 0.6 percentage points in August to 7.8%, dipping below its pre-COVID level for the first time in 18 months.

Blue box showing Employment Rate: 56.6%, +0.4 percentage points with a green arrow pointing up.

  • The employment rate (number of employed for the whole labour force population 15 and over) rose by 0.4 points in August, still 0.9 points lower than its pre-COVID level.

Employment Recovery Progress in August 2021 from the Impact of COVID
Compared to February 2020

  • All the recovery in the last month lies in part-time employment (5,300 jobs, +6.0%), which brought part-time employment over its pre-COVID level for the first time. Full-time employment, however, was still 1.3% lower than its pre-COVID level.

Two blue outlined boxes stacked on top of each other with the title Employment in Aug 2021 compared to Feb 2020 (pre-COVID). A black horizontal line divides the boxes in two, creating space for four bar charts with horizontal bars. Chart one shows males = -200 and females = -1,700. Chart two shows age 15-24 = -3,800; age 25-54 = -6,400; age 55+ = 8,300. Chart three shows full-time = -4,900 and part-time = 2,900. Chart four shows goods sector = -1,100 and service sector = -900.

  • Male employment almost reached a full recovery while female employment was still 0.7% down. Moreover, the recovery of male employment was concentrated in full-time positions (+2.2%) while women’s full-time employment was still 13% lower than its pre-COVID level.
  • Proportionally speaking, youth employment is still the furthest away from full recovery. It was down by 3,800 jobs (-5.5%) while core-aged workers (aged 25-54) was down by 2.2% and older workers surpassed its pre-COVID level by 7.6%.
  • All goods sectors except for “Utilities” contracted in August, losing 1,600 jobs in total. On the other hand, mixed results were found in service sectors. Notably, “Professional, scientific and technical services” and “Educational services” experienced moderate growth in August (+9.6% & +8.3%) while “Accommodation and food services” and “Transportation and warehousing” contracted by 6.6% and 3.3% respectively.

Industry Impacts

A blue outlined box containing a bar chart with the blue bars showing vertically on the left and industry title on the right. Chart title: Top impacted industries by employment loss, Feb 2020 to Aug 2021. Accommodation and food services = -10,090, -29.0%. Wholesale and retail trade = -6,500, -8.1%. Information, culture and recreation = -4800, -26.1%.

  • The employment levels of “Accommodation and food services”, “Wholesale and retail trade”, and “Information, culture and recreation” remain the furthest away from their pre-COVID levels (see chart).

Economic Region

  • All economic regions in Nova Scotia surpassed their pre-COVID employment levels for the first time since February 2020.(2)

A blue outlined box containing a bar chart with horizontal lines showing vertically on the right and the region label on the left. Title: Employment Recovery Progress by Region, Feb 2020 to Aug 2021. Halifax = 7900, 3.4%; Southern = 3100, 6.4%; Annapolis Valley = 1600, 2.9%; North Shore = 4100, 6.1%; and Cape Breton 400, 0.8%.
*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.

  • Halifax again took the lead in the recovery progress across the province in August after losing more jobs proportionally from the third wave than other regions.
  • The recovery progress in Cape Breton picked up its pace in the last couple of months and brought its employment above the pre-COVID level. However, its recovery still lags behind in that compared to other regions (see chart).

Employment Level and Unemployment Rate

A blue outlined box containing a bar chart with vertical lines indicating the level of employment by every second month from Feb 2020 to Aug 2021 and an horizontal orange line showing the unemployment rate trend. Employment is labeled on the left axis and unemployment rate on the right access. Chart Title: Employment Level and Unemployment Rate Nova Scotia, Feb 2020 to Aug 2021. Feb 2020 metrics were employment = 467,000, unemployment rate = 8.0%. Aug 2021 metrics were employment = 465,100, unemployment rate = 7.8%.

  • Nova Scotia kept its recovery momentum as the economy was several weeks into Phase 4 reopening.
  • The unemployment rate returned to below pre-COVID levels while the employment is almost fully recovered (-0.4%). However, with population continously growing, the employment rate was still 0.9 point lower than pre-COVID level.


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

A blue outlined box divided in half by the same style blue line with each half containing a bar chart. Chart on left is titled Unemployment Rate and is a horizontal bar chart showing Visible Minority = 8.1% and Not Indigenous or Visible Minority = 9.2%. Chart on right is titled Employment Rate and is a horizontal bar chart showing Visible Minority = 74.5% and Not Indigenous or Visible Minority = 66.3%.

  • The employment rate (number of employed for the whole labour force population 15 and over) for visible minorities in Atlantic Canada was higher than for non-visible minorities (74.5% vs 66.3%) in August 2021.
  • Compared to last month, the employment rates of visible minorities rose by 1 percentage point while the employment rates of people who are not visible minorities or indigenous people rose by 0.6 points in Atlantic Canada.


The next Labour Force Survey will be released on October 8th, covering the August 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, August 2021 LFS population groups designated visible minorities.

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