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For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

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

October 20, 2020

Statistics Canada has released its quarterly job vacancy and wage survey (unadjusted for seasonality) for the fourth quarter of 2019. This release provides data on the portion of jobs in a particular region, sector or occupation that are vacant.  It also provides information on the wages offered on vacant positions as well as education and experience requirements.  A higher job vacancy rate indicates a tighter labour market where it is more difficult for employers to find suitable candidates for the positions offered.  A lower job vacancy rate signals labour market slack and potentially more job seekers competing for each vacant position.

Nova Scotia's job vacancy rate was 2.8 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019, representing 11,850 job vacancies (these data are unadjusted for seasonality and typically report more labour market slack in the winter months). 

Nova Scotia's job vacancy rate is higher than the 2.7 per cent vacancy rate (11,115 vacancies) observed at the same time in 2018. The national job vacancy rate was 3.0 per cent, down from 3.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018. 

Across Canada, Q4 2019 job vacancy rates were highest in British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario. The lowest job vacancy rates were reported in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador. Compared to Q4 2018, vacancy rates increased in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Saskatchewan. Vacancy rates declined in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Prince Edward Island. 

The average wage offered for a vacant position in Q4 2019 was $18.55 per hour in Nova Scotia, up from $18.15 in Q4 2018. The national average wage offered increased $0.60 per hour over Q4 2018 to $21.75.

Compared with Q4 2018, the average wage offered increased by 2.8 per cent nationally. Average wages on vacant positions were highest in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia, and lowest in the Maritime provinces. Average wages offered on vacant positions increased for all provinces except Saskatchewan. 

Among Nova Scotia's economic regions, the Q4 2019 job vacancy rates were highest in the Southern region, followed by Halifax and the North Shore. The lowest job vacancy rate was in Cape Breton. There was a notable tightening of the labour market over the last year in the Southern region.  

Compared with Q4 2018, average wages on vacant positions increased in the Annapolis Valley (+2.10/hour) and Halifax (+1.20/hour).

Across sectors with available data, Nova Scotia's Q4 2019 job vacancy rates were lower than the national average in every category except professional/technical services, health care and social assistance, accommodation/food services, information and cultural services, and construction. Suppressed data are labelled as 'n/a'.

Compared to the national average, the wages offered for vacant positions in Nova Scotia were lower for all sectors in Q4 2019 except real estate and rental services, and 
Professional and technical services. The largest wage differences were found in information and cultural services, utilities, and educational services. 

Across sectors with available data, Nova Scotia's job vacancy rates increased the most over the last year (Q4 2019 vs Q4 2018) in information and cultural services, construction, health care and social assistance, and manufacturing. Vacancy rates declined the most in Arts, entertainment and recreation services, administrative/waste management, and public administration.

Nova Scotia's average hourly wages on vacant positions were highest in utilities and professional/technical services in Q4 2019.  The fastest wage gains (Q4 2019 vs Q4 2018) were in real estate/rental services, professional/technical services, and finance and insurance. Average wages offered on vacant positions fell the fastest in health care and social assistance, education services, and transportation and warehousing. 

Of the 11,850 job vacancies reported in Nova Scotia during Q4 2019, the largest number (4,280) were in sales and service occupations. Sales/service vacancies decreased 2.6 per cent compared to the same period last year.  Among occupations with data, vacancies were up in all categories except natural and applied sciences, sales and service, and natural resources and agriculture. The largest percentage increases were in management, manufacturing/utilities, and education, law, community and government occupations.

Average wages offered on vacant positions in Nova Scotia during Q4 2019 were highest for natural/applied sciences, followed by management and health occupations. Sales and service, natural resources and agriculture, and manufacturing/utilities occupations had the lowest wages offered on vacant positions in Q4 2019.

In Q4 2019, 59.3 per cent of vacant positions in Nova Scotia required high school or lower levels of education, up from 57.1 per cent of vacancies in Q4 2018.  A lower proportion of vacant positions required an education level beyond high school in Q4 2019, accounting for 40.7 per cent of vacancies compared to 42.9 per cent in Q4 2018.

Wages offered for vacant positions requiring high school or lower education were less than wages offered on vacancies requiring more education. The fastest growth in wages offered (compared to Q4 2018) were for positions requiring university education at a diploma or bachelor's level.

The largest number of vacant positions require less than one year of experience, with vacancies at this experience level increasing 8.5 per cent compared to Q4 2018. The average wage offered on vacant positions increased for all experience levels except for the 8+ years category (there are relatively few vacancies requiring more than 8 years of experience, which likely makes average wages offered on these vacancies highly variable).  

JVWS data are not seasonally adjusted. Therefore, quarter-to-quarter comparisons should be interpreted with caution as they may reflect seasonal movements.

Source: Statistics Canada.  


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