Nova Scotia experienced negative population growth prior to 2016. For the past five years population growth has been consistently positive and continued to grow in 2020 by 1.0%.

This population growth is almost entirely driven the Halifax region. Halifax had the greatest population growth over the past three years. The Annapolis Valley reversed its shrinking population trend in 2018 and maintained growth into 2020. The remaining three regions in Nova Scotia continue to experience negative population growth.

Population Change by Economic Region, 2018 to 2020, Nova Scotia

Regional Employment

Nova Scotia’s employment level was improving before the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, with growth in 2018 and 2019. Employment levels are influenced by the economic impact of the pandemic and by the declining population in most of the province’s economic regions.

Halifax is the only economic region where employment has increased since the Great Recession in the late 2000s and currently is 11.8% higher than it was in 2007. In 2020, employment had decreased by 13.5% in the Cape Breton region, 13.3% in the Southern region, 9.0% in the North Shore region, and 10.5% in Annapolis Valley compared to 2007.

Change in Regional Employment, 2017 to 2019, Nova Scotia

Regional Unemployment

In 2015 the unemployment rate for Nova Scotia fell below 9% and continued to fall to 7.2% in 2019. All five economic regions had improved unemployment rates (declines) in 2019 compared to 2015. However, with the economic impact of COVID-19 the unemployment rate returned to 2010 level of 9.6%.

In 2020 all regions experienced increases to their unemployment rate compared to 2019, particularly Halifax were the rate increased by 2.8 percentage points, this was closely followed by Annapolis Valley (2.3pp), both Southern and North Shore increased by 2pp and Cape Breton’s grew by 1.4pp.

Unemployment Rate and growth by economic regionRegional Umemployment Rates, 2015, 2019, 2020, Nova Scotia

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