Overall, the province had an increase in employment (5.4%) in 2021 that was driven by full-time and part-time job gains (4.4% and 10.2%, respectively).
- The service sector gained 18,700 (5.3%) full-time jobs and added 7,200 (7.2%) part-time jobs.
- The goods sector increased by 4,100 (5.2%) full-time jobs and 1,000 (18.9%) part-time jobs.
Nova Scotia’s goods-producing sector accounted for 19.4% of provincial employment in 2021. All industries in the goods-producing sector experienced employment gains in 2021 compared to 2020. The construction industry in this sector led with 2,300 jobs (+6.9%), followed by utilities which gained 1,000 positions (+27.0%).
Historically, unemployment has been higher in the goods-producing sector than in the services-producing sector, although the gap has narrowed in recent years.
- In 2021, unemployment in the goods-producing sector was 8.3% (down from 10.9% in 2020) -- a record low dating back to the establishment of the modern Labour Force Survey in 1976.
- Unemployment in the services-producing sector stood at 4.6%, down from 7.0% in 2020.
The strong employment gains witnessed in the services-producing sector in 2021 did not occur in every industry within the sector.
- Transportation and warehousing (+5,400 jobs, +28.7%) and professional, scientific and technical services (+5,400 jobs, +18.3%) posted the strongest gains.
- Employment levels declined in two sectors: information, culture and recreation (-1,300 jobs, -8.6%) as well as accommodation and food services (-600 jobs, -2.1%).
In 2021, eight of ten occupational groups had increased employment. Overall employment rose by 5.4% from 2020.
- Occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport experienced the largest percentage increase (+24.5%).
- Occupations in management had the largest percentage employment decrease (-5.3%).
- Sales and service occupations continued to employ the largest number of people and accounted for 24.7% of overall employment.
- Occupations in natural resources, agriculture and related production had the largest unemployment rate (20.7%) of all occupational groups in 2021.
- Health occupations had the lowest unemployment rate (1.1%).
The overall unemployment rate in Nova Scotia was 8.4% which is the lowest it has been since 2016. The highest median hourly wage in 2021 by occupation was in management ($43.75) while the lowest was in sales and service ($15.00).
Goods-Producing Sector Trends
Data in the graphs below is indexed to the year 2011 to show trends and to compare with the Canadian economy.
- From 2010 to 2017, a widening gap appeared in employment growth in the goods-producing sector between Nova Scotia and Canada.
- From 2013 to 2017 the growth in service-sector employment was essentially flat in Canada but dropped by a total of 6.6% in Nova Scotia.
- The resulting gap narrowed between 2017 and 2020, before being nearly eliminated in 2021.
- In 2020, employment in the goods-producing sector contracted by only 1.6% in Nova Scotia versus a 5.1% drop nationally.
- In 2021, employment in the sector grew by 6.0% in Nova Scotia, while the national increase was 3.0%.
Employment in the goods-producing sector in both Nova Scotia and Canada sits at approximately 2% above 2011 levels.
Service-Producing Sector Trends
Employment in the services-producing sector expanded in Canada throughout the 2011 to 2019 period. In Nova Scotia, the sector struggled from 2012 to 2015, as the employment level dropped by 2.9% in those years before rebounding from 2016 to 2019.
The impact of COVID-19 in 2020 led to decreases in employment in this sector both in Nova Scotia (-5.4%) and Canada (-5.2%). In 2021, employment recovered in the service-producing sector, increasing by 5.3% both in Nova Scotia and nationally.
Employment in the service-producing sector in 2021 is 12.0% higher than 2011 levels nationally and 3.0% higher in Nova Scotia.