Prior to 2016, Nova Scotia experienced negative population growth. For the past three years population growth has been consistently positive, growing by 2.9% in 2019 since 2011. This population growth is almost entirely driven by one region, Halifax. Halifax is the only region in Nova Scotia with positive population growth during each of the past three years.

Most of Nova Scotia’s economic regions continued to experience negative population growth since 2016. Annapolis Valley reversed its shrinking population trend in 2018 and maintained growth into 2019. The remaining three regions in Nova Scotia continue to experience negative population growth.

Population Change by Economic Region, 2017 to 2019, Nova Scotia% Change from 2011 base year

Regional Employment

Nova Scotia’s recent employment level has been improving, experiencing positive growth from 2017 to 2019. Employment levels are partly influenced by the declining population in most of the province’s economic regions.

With an increase of 15% in 2019 compared to 2007, the Halifax region is the only economic region where employment has increased past its prerecession levels of 2007. In 2019, employment had decreased by 11.1% in the Southern region, 8.3% in the Cape Breton region, 1.9% in the North Shore region, and 1.0% in Annapolis Valley compared to 2007.

Change in Regional Employment, 2017 to 2019, Nova Scotia % Change from 2007

Regional Unemployment

Nova Scotia’s labour market has been relatively stagnant in the last few years and high unemployment rates persisted in most regions until 2015. In 2015 the unemployment rate for Nova Scotia fell below 9% and continued to fall to 7.2% in 2019.

All five economic regions have experienced improvements to their unemployment rates (declines) in 2019 compared to 2014. North Shore and Southern regions had the greatest improvement in their unemployment rates in 2019 of -3.4 and -3.5 percentage points, respectively. While Southern experienced improvements compared to 2014, it had an increase in its unemployment rate of 2 percentage points in 2019 compared to 2018. Halifax has the lowest unemployment rate of all the regions and it experienced the smallest change to its unemployment rate between 2014 and 2019, -0.3 percentage points, suggesting that further improvements will be minimal.

Unemployment Rate (percent) by Economic Region 2014 and 2019

Regional Umemployment Rates, 2014, 2018, 2019, Nova ScotiaAges 15 years and over