Nova Scotia’s labour force rebounded by 17,900 (+4.0%) from 449,600 in April to 467,500 in May. Compared to a year ago, the labour force decreased by 34,800 (-6.9%), solely attributed to a much lower labour participation (57.3%, -5.1 percentage points).
Employment rebounded by 8,600 (+2.2%)to 404,200 in May, following a record-high monthly decline in April (-11.3%). Compared to May 2019, employment dropped by 64,600 (-13.8%).
The year-to-year employment decline was observed across all age groups, but more for younger workers. Youth (aged 15-24) experienced the highest decline in employment (-19,300, -29.3%) as two-thirds of them dropped out of labour force due to the Covid-19 restrictive measures. The employment of core-aged workforce (aged 25-54) and older workers also decreased sharply (-10.5% & -13.2% respectively).
Wholesale and retail trade, accommodation and food services experienced significant employment decline compared to May 2019 (-20,300 jobs, -24.5%; -15,000 jobs, -43.0%).
The monthly unemployment rate was 13.6%, up by 1.6 percentage points from April. Compared to May 2019, the unemployment rate was up by 6.9 percentage points, more than twice as high.
The impact of Covid-19 on Nova Scotia’s labour market will be discussed in detail in the Issue No. 2 of the LFS update for May.
Nova Scotia’s labour force has been on a four-year upward trend since 2016. It grew by 9,200 (+1.9%) to 502,300 from 2018 to 2019. The employment rates of youth (aged 15-24) and core-aged (aged 25-54) reach their peaks (60.4% and 81.6%) since the inception of the modern Labour Force Survey in 1976. The employment rate of older workers (aged 55 and over) also rests at one of its highest points.
Unemployment rate in Nova Scotia continues to drop, resting at 7.2% in 2019, down from 7.5% in 2018 and 8.4% in 2017.
As the largest population center, Halifax accounts for half of the provincial labour force. Its labour market also outperforms other economic regions’. Cape Breton, on the other hand, continues to fall behind with the highest unemployment rate (13.3% vs provincial average 7.2%) and the lowest employment rate (47.5% vs provincial average 57.7%).