While overall the province had an increase in employment (2.2%) that was driven by full-time and part-time jobs (1.2% and 7.1%, respectively). The service sector lost 300 (-3.0%) full-time jobs and gained 6,600 (8.8%) part-time jobs. Conversely, the goods gained 4,800 (6.3%) full-time jobs and lost 900 (-15.3%) part-time jobs.

Nova Scotia’s goods-producing sector accounted for 18.6% of provincial employment in 2019. Only one industry in the goods-producing sector experienced employment declines in 2019 compared to 2018: Utilities experienced a loss of 100 jobs (-2.7%). However, there were more jobs added to the remaining goods-producing industries. The Agriculture sector made a significant gain of 700 jobs (13.5%); Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas grew employment with 1,900 positions (21.1%); Construction added 1,200 jobs (3.6%) and Manufacturing increased by 200 jobs (0.6%) in 2019 compared to 2018. While overall there has been much improvement in the goods-producing sector, the unemployment rate in these industries continues to be higher in comparison to the services-producing sector. The Forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, oil and gas industry had the highest unemployment rate in 2019, 20.4%- the same rate confronted with in 2018.

Though employment increased in the services-producing sector, only four out of 11 industries experienced contractions. The highest growth (7.7%) occurred in health care and social assistance which gained 5,300 jobs in 2019 compared to 2018. More modest growth occurred in the remaining six industries. Wholesale and retail trade 2,600 jobs (3.3%); Information, culture and recreation grew by 500 jobs (2.7%); Professional, scientific and technical services added 400 jobs (1.5%); Accommodation and food services grew by 500 jobs (1.4%); Transportation and warehousing increased by 200 positions (0.7%) and Public Administration added 200 jobs (0.7%).  While employment in the service-producing sector grew, it was mitigated by losses in four industries. The most significant loss of jobs was in Other services (catch-all for various types of employment) with a loss of 1,800 jobs (-9.6%) in 2019 compared to 2018. There remaining industries (Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing; Business, building and other support services; and Educational services) lost a combined total of 1,500 jobs (-1.9%) in 2019 compared to 2018. The highest unemployment rate (11.7%) in the services-producing sector was in the Business, building and other support services industry.

Employment and Unemployment by Industry Group


In 2018, five out of ten occupational groups had increased employment; overall employment increased by 1.5% from 2017. Occupations in Natural resources, agriculture and related production experienced the largest decrease (-7.3%). Art, culture, recreation and sport occupations had the largest employment increase (28.7%). Sales and service occupations continued to employ the largest number of people and accounted for 26.8% of overall employment. Occupations in natural resources, agriculture and related production had the largest unemployment rate (18.6%) of all occupational groups in 2018. Health occupations had the lowest unemployment rate (1.7%). The overall unemployment rate in Nova Scotia was 7.5%. The highest median hourly wage in 2018 was in management occupations ($38.46) while the lowest was in sales and service occupations ($13.00).

Employment, Unemployment, and Median Hourly Wage by Occupational Group

Goods-Producing Sector Trends

Data in the graphs below is indexed to the year 2010 (post-recession period) to show trends and to compare with the Canadian economy. After 2010, a clear gap appeared between national employment growth and provincial employment in the goods producing sector that has continued to widen over time. Between 2010 and 2019, employment in Nova Scotia’s good-producing sector has decreased 1.9%, whereas at the national level it has grown 6.2%.

Indexed Goods Sector Employment, 2010 to 2019, Canada and Nova Scotia base year 2010 = 100

Service-Producing Sector Trends

Employment in the service-producing sector has been increasing at national and provincial levels though growth has been faster nationally. After peaking in 2012, relative to 2010, employment growth in Nova Scotia’s service-producing sector went on a downward trend until 2017. However, employment in Nova Scotia’s service-producing sector was 4.3% higher in 2019 compared to 2010.

Indexed Service Sector Employment, 2010 to 2019, Canada and Nova Scotiabase year 2010 = 100

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