Nova Scotia’s overall employment levels have stayed about the same as pre-recession levels of 2008/2009. Changing demographics are largely behind the pattern of employment growth observed in the different age groups over the last few years.

Most of the employment growth in the Nova Scotia labour market has been in older workers aged 55 years and over. Employment for older workers increased 43.7% since 2008 while it fell 6% and 13.7% for middle-aged workers and youth respectively. The employment declines for those aged 54 years and below can partly be attributed to population declines within this age group.

The population for middle aged workers declined 8% while it declined 10% for youth aged 15 to 24 years during the same period, 2008 to 2018. As a result of employment declining faster than population, employment rates for youth fell from 58.2% in 2008 to 55.9% in 2018. Conversely, employment rates for middle aged workers slightly increased from 79.4% to 81.2% and increased for older workers from 28.6% to 31.9%.

Indexed Employment by Age Group, 2008 to 2018, Nova Scotia base year 2008-100


Although female employment has matched that of male employed, two times between 1998 and 2018, there is no obvious relationship between genders with respect to changes in employment. Female employment declined by 500 jobs (-0.2%) in 2018 compared to 2017. Male employment increased by 7,400 (3.3%) jobs during the same period.

There continues to be differences in the types of industries in which males and females are employed. In 2018, 94% of females and 70% of males were employed in the service-producing sector as opposed to the goods-producing sector. 

There are also gender differences in the participation of males and females in part-time and full-time work. In 2018, a higher percentage of males (88 percent) were employed full-time compared to 77 percent of females. The job losses for females in 2018 are partially explained by a higher overall loss in part-time jobs as females hold 65% of all part-time jobs.

In 2018, part-time jobs declined by 4.300 (-5.1%) whereas full-time jobs increased by 11,100 (3.0%) compared to 2017. Most part-time jobs can be found in the service sector (93% in 2018).  Females overall job losses (-0.2%) and males had job gains (3.3%), there was an increase of 2,800 full-time jobs and a loss of 3,300 part-time jobs for females in 2018 compared to 2017. Additionally, males experienced gains in full-time jobs (8,400) and declines in part-time jobs (-1,000) during the same period. 

Category Ages 15 years and over

Employment Type

Employment in Nova Scotia increased overall by 6,900 (1.5%) in 2018.  However, there were both gains and losses in employment. There were losses of 4,300 (-5.1%) part-time positions in Nova Scotia between 2017 and 2018 along with more than double the gains in full time employment (11,100 positions). Between 2008 and 2018, on average 81% of employment positions were full time positions which grew by 0.2% per year, on average. During this same time period 19% of employment positions were part time and declined in 6 out of the 10 years, producing an average annual growth rate of -0.26%.

Part-time employment can either be voluntary or in-voluntary. Someone may be voluntarily employed part-time because they are in school, or have other reasons or personal preferences. Involuntary part-time is a result of being employed part-time due to business conditions or not being able to find work which offers full-time hours. A higher percentage of part-time job losses in 2018 (53%) were for voluntary part-time positions as opposed to in-voluntary part-time. Overall, voluntary part-time was 13.3% and in-voluntary part-time was 4.4% of all jobs in the province in 2018.

Full-time vs Part-time Employment, 2017 and 2018, Nova Scotia Ages 15 years and over