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

August 06, 2021

Labour force survey results reflect the period from July 11 to 17. Compared to the June reference week, public health restrictions were significantly eased around indoor and outdoor dining, recreation and cultural activities, retail shopping, and personal care services. Other than masking and screening in select setting, public health restrictions have been lifted in Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Ontario partially resumed personal care services at the end of June but some limitation on indoor dining and recreational activities were only lifted at end of LFS reference week. Nova Scotia reopening plan moved to Phase 3 on June 30 and Phase 4 on July 14 (middle of reference week) with less stringent public health measures compared to June.

Nova Scotia’s seasonally adjusted employment level increased 3,700 (+0.8%) to 461,200 in July 2021 following on an increase of 13,800 in June as phased re-opening continued after the third-wave lockdown period in the spring. Employment is 5,600 (-1.2%) lower than in March 2021.

Nova Scotia’s employment was 1.2% below the pre-COVID level of February 2020 with 5,800 fewer people employed.

Nova Scotia’s labour force increased 500 (+0.1%) to 503,300 in July. The labour force in July was lower by 4,300 (-0.8%) than the February 2020 level with population growth of 8,700 (+1.1%) over the same period. The number of unemployed persons decreased 3,200 compared to last month but is 1,500 higher compared to February 2020.

With a smaller increase in labour force than employment, the unemployment rate decreased 0.6 percentage points from last month to 8.4% in July 2021.




In July, full-time employment was up 5,700 to 372,700 position and part-time employment declined 2,100 (-2.3%). Compared to February 2020, full-time employment was lower by 3,400 (-0.9%) while part time employment was lower by 2,400 (-2.6%).

The participation rate was unchanged at 61.3% in July 2021.  This was 1.2 percentage points below the February 2020 level. The number of persons not in the labour force increased 300 (+0.1%) to 317,200 in July 2021, still elevated from levels seen in March 2021 prior to the third-wave.  




In addition to the employment decline from February 2020, there were elevated numbers of persons who are counted as employed, but have zero hours (for non-routine reasons like vacation, maternity/parental leave, labour dispute) or had their hours cut by 50% or more. 

In July 2021 in Nova Scotia there were 27,000 persons employed but at less than 50% of their usual hours (including zero hours), down from 31,800 in June and 45,900 in May and still elevated by 7,200 compared to 19,800 in February 2020. Compared to just before third-wave lockdown (March 2021), there were still an elevated number of people employed at fewer than usual hours.

Employment losses and substantially reduced hours combine to account for 2.8% of Nova Scotia’s February 2020 employment level. A decrease from 10.6% in May 2021 and 4.6% in June 2021; this measure reached a peak of 28.1% in April 2020.  The largest total employment/hour impact in June 2021 was Prince Edward Island (3.4%) and the smallest impacts were in British Columbia (0.0%) with no net change.




Statistics Canada reported in supplemental information that Nova Scotia had a decrease of 2,000 (Jun-21 to Jul-21) of people who were not in the labour force but wanted to work, currently at 17,300 people. The number of people not in labour force and wanting work is 4,000 more than February 2020.

The labour underutilization rate (COVID-19 impact definition) is the proportion of the potential labour force (labour force + those wanting work) that is either unemployed, not in labour force but wanted work or employed but have lost the majority of their usual hours.




In February 2020, Nova Scotia's labour underutilization rate was 14.1%.  This underutilization increased to 37.1% in April 2020 and subsequently fell 15.5% in April 2021, before rising to 22.8% in May 2021 and declining to 18.5% in June and 16.6% in July.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported the highest labour underutilization in July 2021 at 21.7% while Quebec (12.0%) reported the lowest.




Age Cohorts

When compared to February 2020, the shortfall in employment was attributable to declines in the youth (ages 15-24) and the core-age cohorts (ages 25-54). Employment among core-aged workers declined 4,200 while labour force declined by 5,900 from February 2020 to July 2021. In the youth cohort (ages 15-24), employment declined 5,700 and labour force was down 6,200. For older workers (aged 55+), employment was up 4,200 while labour force was up 7,800.


The unemployment rate decreased for youth and core-aged workers in Nova Scotia in July 2021. Compared to the previous month, the unemployment rate declined 2.6 percentage points to 14.0% for youth workers (ages 15-24) and decreased 0.5 percentage points to 6.6% for core-aged workers (aged 25-54). For older workers (ages 55 and over), the unemployment rate edged up 0.1 percentage points to 9.3% in July.

The participation rate for younger Nova Scotians declined by 0.4 percentage points to 68.3% in July. For core-aged workers, the participation rate was slightly lower by 0.2 percentage points to 86.2% and for older workers, the participation rate increased by 0.3 percentage points to 34.8%.

The employment rate was up across all age cohorts in July with the largest increases seen among youth (+1.4 percentage points) compared to the previous month.

Compared to July 2020, employment rate for youth workers increased by 6.7 percentage points to 58.7% in July. The employment rate was up 3.1 percentage points to 80.5% for core-aged workers, and 2.5 percentage points to 31.5% for older Nova Scotians.

Compared with February 2020, employment rates were down for youth (-4.4 percentage points), core-aged workers (-1.4 percentage points) while employment rates were slightly up for older workers (+0.3 percentage points).












Males and Females

Compared to pre-pandemic levels seen in February 2020, female employment was down 3,200 and male employment was down 2,600 in July 2021. Over the same period, female labour force declined 3,100 while male labour force was down 1,200. The number of unemployed females increased 100 while the number of males was up 1,400. The number of females not in the labour force was up 7,800 from February 2020 while the male population not in the labour force was up 5,300.

The decline in female employment was concentrated in full-time jobs (-4,600) while part-time employment among females was higher (+1,500) than in February 2020. Male full-time employment was up 1,300 from pre-pandemic while males with part-time employment was 3,800 lower.

The July 2021 participation rate edged up 0.1 percentage points female workers to 58.3% and declined 0.1 percentage points for male workers to 64.6%.

The monthly employment rate was up 0.4 percentage points to 54.1% for females and was up 0.3 percentage points to 58.4% for males.

In July 2021, the monthly unemployment rate declined 0.6 percentage points to 7.2% for female workers and 0.7 percentage points to 9.5% for male workers.













Sectors and Industries

The monthly employment increase in July was concentrated in private sector employees (+6,300) while public sector employment rose marginally (+200) and self-employed (-2,900) declined.

For July, goods-producing sector employment was up 1,000 jobs after a 4,200 job decline last month. Increases in construction (+700), manufacturing (+600), and forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying and oil and gas (+400) offset a decline in Utilities (-800).

Service-producing sector employment increased 2,600 in July after recovering 18,000 in June. Employment gains for July were limited to only the health care and social assistance (+4.800) and accommodation and food services (+1,500) sectors. Professional, scientific and technical services employment was unchanged and all other service subsectors had small declines.


For July 2021 compared to February 2020, employment was lower in the private sector (-15,200) while self-employment (+300) and public sector employment (+9,100) have increased.

Employment since February 2020 was 500 higher in goods-production industries with higher employment in construction (+1,600); forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying and oil and gas (+1,500); and agriculture (+700). Manufacturing employment was lower by 3,200 in July 2021 compared to February 2020


Service-producing employment was lower by 3,200 since February 2020 with significantly lower levels in wholesale/retail trade (-8,300), information, culture and recreation (-5,200), and accommodation and food services (-9,000).

Employment levels were notably higher in July 2021 than February 2020 in transportation/warehousing (+4,600), professional, scientific and technical services (+6,200), and health care and social assistance (+4,900).





Regions – July 2021 vs July 2020 (unadjusted 3 month moving average)

Regional results for July are three month moving averages from the period May-July.  Changes do not reflect the full extent of employment volatility observed in monthly results for the province as a whole.

Compared with July 2020, Cape Breton employment increased by 1,500 (+3.1%) while labour force was down 1,000 (-1.7%). The number of unemployed people decreased 2,500 and the unemployment rate decreased by 4.1 percentage points to 12.6% in July 2021. The number of persons not in the labour force was up 300 compared to the same period one year ago.

For the North Shore region, the labour force increased 7,300 and employment was up 10,600. The number of unemployed people was down 3,500 which resulted in a 5.9 percentage point decline in the unemployment rate to 7.4%. The number of persons not in the labour force declined by 7,500 compared to July 2020.

The Annapolis Valley reported an increase both in labour force (+5,500) and employment (+6,200) when compared to July 2020. The unemployment rate declined 2.2 percentage points to 8.4%. The number of persons not in the labour force declined 4,900 from a year earlier.

In the Southern region, labour force increased 200 while employment grew by 3,000 people when compared to July 2020. The number of unemployed was down 2,800 and the unemployment rate declined 5.1 percentage points to 7.1% in July 2021. The number of persons not in the labour force declined 400 from a year earlier.

In the Halifax region, the labour force posted an increase of 8,100 (+3.3%) while employment has increased 12,800 (+5.8%) compared to July 2020. The number of unemployed was down 4,700 and the unemployment rate fell to 8.6%. The number of persons not in the labour force decreased by 1,300 in Halifax from a year ago.









Provincial Comparisons

Employment increased month-over-month in six provinces in July with Prince Edward Island reporting the largest increase (+1.4%) and Saskatchewan (-0.8%) reporting the largest decline

Nationally, employment was up 0.5% from last month in July 2021.




Compared to February 2020, the labour force was lower in seven  provinces including Nova Scotia. British Columbia (+2.2%) has seen the largest growth in labour force from pre-pandemic levels. Ontario and Quebec labour force have also increased.  The largest decline in the labour force since February 2020 to July 2021 was in Saskatchewan (-2.8%).

Employment was lower compared to pre-pandemic levels in all provinces except British Columbia (+0.5%). The largest employment declines since February 2020 were in Prince Edward Island (-3.5%) and Saskatchewan (-3.6%).

The highest unemployment rate for July 2021 was in Newfoundland and Labrador at 12.7% and the lowest rate was 6.1% in both Quebec and Manitoba. Canada’s unemployment rate was 7.5% in July. Unemployment rates were higher in all provinces compared to February 2020.

National Comparisons: Cities (Monthly, 3 month moving average)

The unemployment rate for Halifax Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in July 2021 was 8.7% (seasonally adjusted 3 month moving average). Quebec City at 4.0% had the lowest unemployment rate among CMAs while the highest was in Windsor (11.1%).

The seasonally adjusted employment rate for Halifax was 61.1%, down 0.4 percentage points compared to last month. Guelph (65.6%) had the highest employment rate while Belleville (50.3%) had the lowest among CMAs.

Halifax’s employment (3 month moving average) for July 2021 was down 0.5% compared to the June 2021 result. The employment level (May-Jul) average compared to previous average (Apr-Jun) was up by the largest in Barrie (+4.1%) and decreased the most in Saint John (-1.7%).



Note: Seasonally adjusted, 3 month average.



Statistics Canada.  Table  14-10-0287-01   Labour force characteristics, monthly, seasonally adjusted and trend-cycle, last 5 months

Statistics Canada.  Table  14-10-0294-01   Labour force characteristics by census metropolitan area, three-month moving average, seasonally adjusted and unadjusted, last 5 months

Statistics Canada.  Table  14-10-0293-01   Labour force characteristics by economic region, three-month moving average, unadjusted for seasonality, last 5 months

Statistics Canada.  Table  14-10-0355-01   Employment by industry, monthly, seasonally adjusted and unadjusted, and trend-cycle, last 5 months (x 1,000)

Statistics Canada.  Table  14-10-0288-01   Employment by class of worker, monthly, seasonally adjusted and unadjusted, last 5 months (x 1,000)

Statistics Canada.  Table: 14-10-0380-02   Labour force characteristics, three month moving average, seasonally adjusted (x 1,000)

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