Nova Scotia Labour Force Survey : Annual Highlights

Labour Force Survey, 2021: Nova Scotia Annual Highlights

  • Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which wreaked havoc on Nova Scotia’s labour market, the province rebounded in 2021 both in terms of employment levels and labour force expansion.
  • Nova Scotia’s labour force increased from 487,300 in 2020 to 506,000 in 2021 (+3.8%), the largest year-over-year increase in 37 years.
  • Nova Scotia experienced 23,800 job gains for all of 2021, a record 5.4% increase from 2020 with gains of 15,700 full-time jobs and 8,100 part-time jobs.
  • The participation rate and employment rate, which are key labour market indicators, also experienced record increases dating back to the modern history of the Labour Force Survey (1976).
    • 61.6% of Nova Scotians aged 15 and over participated in the labour market in 2021, up by 1.7 percentage points from 2020.
    • As a result of a higher participation rate and a lower unemployment rate, Nova Scotia’s employment rate for those age 15 and over in 2021 was 56.4%, up by 2.4 percentage points from 2020.


This image shows two blue outlined square boxes side by side and each box contains a chart. The box on the left is titled “Labour Force Trend, 2017-2021” and has a vertical stacked bar chart representing each year from 2017-2021 with dark blue showing full-time employment, medium blue showing part-time employment, and light blue showing unemployment. A light blue line chart indicates employment and a dark blue line chart indicates the labour force. The blue box on the right is titled “Labour Force Trend from 2017-2021” and has three sections of vertical bar charts with a vertical bar for each year. The group on the far left shows the unemployment rate, the group in the middle shows the participation rate, and the group on the far right shows the employment rate. The bars are shades of blue with the darkest being 2017 moving toward the lightest in 2021. Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, Table 14-10-0327-01, Both Sexes, Ages 15+.

  • The employment recovery in 2021 is unevenly distributed among demographic groups and industries.
    • Youth (aged 15-24) gained 5,700 jobs (+9.8%), the largest increase among all age groups. The youth labour participation rate also rebounded and was 3.8 percentage points higher compared to 2020.
    • Nova Scotia women gained more jobs than men in 2020 (+12,700 versus +11,000 jobs gained). However, job gains for men were mostly concentrated in full-time positions (+8,800 full-time, +2,300 part-time), whereas among women gains were spread more evenly (+6,900 full-time, +5,800 part-time).
    • The industries with the largest employment gains in 2021 are “transportation and warehousing” (+5,400 jobs, +28.7%), “professional, scientific, and technical services” (+5,400 jobs, +18.3%) and “health care and social assistance” (+3,000 jobs, +4.2%).


This image shows a blue outlined box containing a bar chart with vertical blue bars. The chart is titled “Employment Change by selected demographics 2020-2021”.  Starting on the left, the first two bars represent males Full-time=4.6% and part-time = 8.1%. The next two bars represent female full-time= 4.1%, part time = 11.3%. The next two bars represent 15 to 24 years full-time = 13.1% and part-time = 5.5%. The next two bars represent 25 to 54 years full-time = 3.0% and part-time = 7.6%. The final two bars represent 55 years and older full-time = 5.1% and part-time = 19.5%. Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, Table 14-10-0327-01.

  • As the largest population center in NS, Halifax accounts for half of the provincial labour force and employment. Approximately half of the jobs gained during the economic recovery of 2021 were in the Halifax region (+11,900 jobs, +5.2%).
  • In terms of percentage increases, the North Shore (+5,200 jobs, +8.2%) and Annapolis
    Valley (+4,300 jobs, +8.1%) regions led the province, followed by the Southern region (+2,700 jobs, +5.7%). The only economic region to register a year-over-year decrease in employment was Cape Breton, which experienced a decrease of 400 jobs (-0.8%).

This image shows two blue outlined square boxes side by side and each box contains a chart. The box on the left is titled “Labour Market Indicators by Economic Region 2021”. It contains three groups of vertical bar charts with each bar representing an economic region. The darkest blue is Cape Breton with the bars moving to lighter blues through North Shore, Annapolis Valley, Southern, and Halifax. Starting from the left, the first group of bars represents the Unemployment rate. Following the stated order the values are 13.4%, 7.9%, 8.3%, 8.6%, and 7.5%. The next group of bars represents Participation Rate. In order the values are 51.3%, 58.4%, 58.8%, 55.7%, and 68.0%. The third group of bars represents the Employment Rate. In order the values are 44.4%, 53.75%, 53.9%, 50.9%, 62.9%. The chart in the box on the right is titled “Employment Change by Economic Region, 2020-2021.” Blue vertical bars represent the total employment change while an orange dot represents the percentage employment change. Starting on the left it shows Cape Breton -400, -0.8%; North Shore 5200, 8.2%; Annapolis Valley 4300, 8.1%; Southern 2700, 5.7%; Halifax 11900, 5.2%. Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, Table 14-10-0393-01, Both Sexes, Ages 15+.