Nova Scotia’s population reversed its negative growth trend in 2016 with a small growth of 0.4% and a 1% growth in 2017. However, this population growth is entirely driven by Halifax as all other economic regions experienced continued negative population growth.

Cape Breton has had the highest population declines each year for the last three years. Meanwhile, Halifax is the only region in Nova Scotia with population increases in each of the last the three years. Halifax’s population increased by 7.3% in 2017 compared to 2011 while Cape Breton’s decreased 5.9% during the same time period. Nova Scotia’s overall population increased by 1.0% in 2017 compared to 2011.

Population Change by Economic Region, 2015 to 2017, Nova Scotia% Change from 2011 base year

Regional Employment

Nova Scotia’s overall employment level has been stagnant; it increased by 0.7% in 2018 compared to 1.4% in the pre-recession levels of 2007. Employment levels are partly influenced by the declining population in most of the province’s economic regions.

With an increase of 11.9% in 2018 compared to 2007, the Halifax region is the only economic region where employment has increased past its pre-recession levels of 2007. In 2018, employment had decreased by 5.7% in the Southern region, 13.2% in the Cape Breton region, 5.0% in the Northern region, and 4.4% in Annapolis Valley compared to 2007.

Change in Regional Employment, 2016 to 2018, 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 have persisted in most regions until 2015. In 2015 the unemployment rate for Nova Scotia fell below 9% and continued to fall to 7.5% in 218. Overall, the unemployment rate declined from 9.1% in 2013 to 7.5% in 2018.

Among the five economic regions, Cape Breton is the only region with a higher unemployment rate in 2018 (15.1%) than in 2013 (14.3%). The remaining four economic regions had lower unemployment rates in 2018 than observed in 2013. The unemployment rates for Annapolis Valley and Southern regions were 7.1% and 6.5% respectively in 2015 and were lower than rates in 2013. The Southern region had the greatest unemployment rate decrease in 2018 compared to 2013 of -4.9 percentage points.

Regional Unemployment Rates, 2013, 2017, 2018, Nova Scotia Ages 15 years and over