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For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

May 28, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, comparisons of year-to-date averages and sums do not show Nova Scotia’s rapidly-changing economic situation.  The DailyStats will focus on year-over-year comparisons, comparing one month with the same month in the prior year.  Where possible the DailyStats will make comparisons of seasonally adjusted data from the pre-COVID-19 period (January  and February 2020) with the period during which COVID-19 measures were in place from March 2020 onwards.

Nova Scotians' average weekly earnings (including overtime, seasonally adjusted) decreased 0.3 per cent (-$3.13) from February 2020 to $925.03 in March 2020. Average weekly wages were up 3.7 per cent compared with March 2020. Canadians' average weekly wages increased 0.6 per cent month to month ($1,053.00 in March) and were 3.7 per cent higher than they were a year ago.

Changes in average weekly earnings reflect wage growth, changes in the composition of employment by industry/occupation/experience, and average hours worked per week.

Across the country, there are monthly decreases in three provinces, Alberta (-0.5 per cent), Manitoba (-0.4 per cent) and Nova Scotia (-0.3 per cent). Compared to the previous month, there were monthly increases in the seven provinces lead by Newfoundland and Labrador (+2.2 per cent), Prince Edward Island and Quebec (+1.0 per cent).

Compared to a year ago, average wages were higher in all provinces except Manitoba, with the largest increases in percentage terms reported in Quebec (+5.5 per cent) Prince Edward Island (+5.2 per cent) and British Columbia (+4.8 per cent). The slowest year-over-year growth in average weekly earnings was observed in Manitoba (-0.5 per cent), Alberta (+1.4 per cent) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+2.3 per cent).

In March 2020 (compared to March 2019), average weekly earnings were down -0.6 per cent in Nova Scotia's goods producing sectors. Goods sector wages were up for manufacturing and down for construction sectors. Service sector average earnings were up 4.9 per cent in March 2020. Service sector earnings increased the most in percentage terms in information & culture (+10.3 per cent), administration and support services (+8.4 per cent), and other (except public administration) (+7.5 per cent). Service sector earnings declined in management of companies (-8.6 per cent) , real estate/rental & leasing (-7.6 per cent), arts, entertainment & recreation (-0.8 per cent), and  transportation and warehousing (-0.1 per cent). 


Nova Scotia had 409,601 payroll employees in March, a decrease of 3.5 per cent compared to last month, and down 2.7 per cent compared to last March. Canada had 16.1 million employees, a decrease of 5.4 per cent compared to last month and down 4.5 per cent compared to a year ago.

Nova Scotia's payroll employment has been trending upwards since 2017 and declined in recent months.

Compared to March 2019, Nova Scotia's payroll employment is down 2.7 per cent. Nationally, payroll employment is down 4.5 per cent in March 2020, with all provinces reporting decreases. The fastest payroll employment decline has been observed in Quebec (-5.9 per cent) followed by Alberta (-5.3 per cent), and Manitoba (-4.8 per cent).  

In March 2020, payroll employment was down 3.7 per cent in Nova Scotia's goods producing sectors.  Goods sector payroll employment was down for manufacturing and construction sectors compared to March 2019. Service sector employment was down 2.1 per cent in March 2020 compared to March 2019. Service sector payroll employment decreased the most in percentage terms in accommodation and food services (-13.4 per cent), arts/entertainment/recreation (-11.1 per cent) and other (except public administration) (-5.3 per cent). There were payroll employment increases in, real estate/leasing (+12.2 per cent), Professional, scientific & technical services (+1.5 per cent) and finance and insurance (+0.7) per cent.

REFERENCE TABLES - (March 2020 vs March 2019)

Source: Statistics Canada, Survey of Employment, Payroll, and Hours. Table 14-10-0223-01, 14-10-0222-01

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