Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Nova Scotia’s overall employment levels were relatively stable since 2010. Changing demographics have largely been behind the pattern of employment growth seen in the different age groups over the past 10 years.

Most of the pre-pandemic employment growth in the Nova Scotia labour market has been in older workers, those aged 55 years and over. Employment for older workers increased on average 3.0 percent per year since 2010 while fell 0.5 percent per year for core-aged workers, the net average change for youth was nil. The employment declines for youth and core-aged workers can be partly attributed to population declines within these age groups, each falling by 0.8 percent per year on average.

The economic shock resulting from the arrival of COVID-19 caused a fall in employment of 4.7 percent in the province. Youth suffered the greatest change in employment at -12.7 percent, followed by older workers at -4.8 percent. Core age workers also experienced a decrease in employment, however relative to the other age groups, they have not suffered as much, employment fell by 2.7 percent.

Indexed Employment by Age Group, 2010 to 2020, Nova Scotia base year 2010100


Although female employment is very similar that of male employment, there is no obvious relationship between genders with respect to the rise and fall in employment growth. Female employment fell by 12,200 jobs (-5.3%) in 2020 compared to 2019. Male employment fell by 9,200 (-4%) jobs during the same period.

There continue to be differences in the types of industries in which males and females are represented. In 2020, 92 percent of females and 69 percent of males were employed in the service-producing sector. 

There are also gender differences in the participation of males and females in part-time and full-time work. In 2020, a higher percentage of males (87%) were employed full-time compared to females (77%).

The job losses for females in 2020 are partially explained by a decline in part-time jobs as females hold 64.4 percent of all part-time jobs. In 2020, part-time jobs held declined by 6,200 (-7.2%) whereas full-time jobs declined by more than twice as many, 15,300 (-4.1%).

Both genders experienced significant job losses in 2020, females lost 5.3 percent of jobs and males lost 4 percent. However, females have farther to go before returning to previous employment levels as they have lost 6,600 full-time jobs and of 5,600 part-time jobs. Although males lost more full-time jobs (8,600) their short fall in part-time jobs (500) represents a loss of less than 2 percent. 

Nova Scotia Ages 15 years and over employment by sector, full/part time, and gender

Employment Type

Employment in Nova Scotia decreased overall by 21,500 (-4.7%) from 2019 to 2020. Most of the employment loses in 2020 can be tied to the economic consequences of the Public Health restrictions put in place to stop the spread COVID-19.

In the services producing sector, 20,100 jobs were lost, most of these jobs were held by females (15,000). There were losses of 1,400 (-1.6%) positions in the goods producing sector between 2019 and 2020, most of these lost jobs were held by males (4,200) whereas female jobs in the goods sector increased by 2,800 (19.9%).

Between 2010 and 2020, on average 81.3 percent of employment positions were full-time, growing by 0.3 percent per year, on average, until 2020 when full-time employment declined by 4.1 percent. During this same period 18.7 percent of employment positions were part-time, producing an average annual growth rate of 0.1% per year until 2020 when part-time employment fell by 7.2percent.

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. The number of involuntary part-time workers increased in 2020 by a 1,400. Voluntary part-time employment fell from 14 percent in 2019 to 13 percent in 2020 likely reflecting the reduced labour demand during the COVID-19 recession.

Full-time vs Part-time Employment, 2019 and 2020, Nova Scotia

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