- Nova Scotia Canada - Government of Nova Scotia

Home > Economics and Statistics > Selected Daily Stats Article
For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

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

July 29, 2021


With May reference month results, year-over-year (May 2021 vs May 2020) and year-to-date (Jan-May 21 vs Jan-May 20) are showing the rebounds in economic activity from the unprecedented declines observed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nova Scotia had 408,233 payroll employees in May 2021, down 2.7% (-11,362) compared to April 2021, and up 16.8% (+58,779) compared to May 2020. Nova Scotia's payroll employment had been trending upwards since 2017 but declined sharply between February and May 2020 due to restrictions and closures resulting from COVID-19. There was a partial rebound from June to November due to eased restrictions. In December 2020, Nova Scotia's payroll employment edged down once again on renewed COVID-19 restrictions. Nova Scotia's payroll employment returned to a path of recovery starting in January 2021. The decline in May reflects renewed COVID-19 restrictions put in place on April 28, 2021 amid a third wave of infections.  

Canada had 16.1 million employees, a decrease of 1.6% (-257,519) compared to last month and up 17.0% (+2,333,916) compared to a year ago.

Compared to February 2020, Nova Scotia's payroll employment was down 3.6% in May 2021. Nationally, payroll employment was down 5.8% in May 2021, with all provinces reporting decreases except New Brunswick (+1.2%) and Prince Edward Island (+4.3%). The largest payroll employment declines were observed in Ontario (-8.3%) and Alberta (-7.1%).

In Jan-May 2021, Nova Scotia's payroll employment increased 5.1% over Jan-May 2020. Nationally, payroll employment rose 2.6% in Jan-May 2021, with all provinces reporting increases. The slowest payroll employment growth was observed in Alberta (+0.4%) and Ontario (+1.0%). The largest payroll employment increases were observed in New Brunswick (+7.6%) and Prince Edward Island (+8.7%).

In January-May 2021, payroll employment was up 6.9% in Nova Scotia's goods producing sectors compared to January-May 2020. Goods sector payroll employment was up for manufacturing, forestry/logging and construction sectors compared to January-May 2020.

Service sector employment was up 4.7% in January-May 2021 compared to January-May 2020. Service sector payroll employment increased the most in percentage terms in management of companies and retail trade. Payroll employment decreased in real estate/rental & leasing and information & culture.


Changes in average weekly earnings reflect wage growth as well as changes in the composition of employment by industry/occupation/experience, and average hours worked per week. During COVID-19, large employment losses have been reported in industries with relatively low average weekly earnings. This means that average weekly earnings were increasing because those remaining employed are working in industries with higher average weekly earnings. Declining average weekly earnings may similarly reflect re-employment in lower wage industries.

Nova Scotians' average weekly earnings (including overtime, seasonally adjusted) increased 3.8% (+$36.27) from April 2021 to $991.52 in May 2021. Average weekly wages were down 2.3% compared with May 2020. Canadians' average weekly wages increased 0.9% month to month ($1,138.23 in May 2021) and were 0.1% below wages a year ago.

Across the country, there were monthly increases in seven provinces, with the largest increases in Nova Scotia. The largest decline was in New Brunswick (-1.5%).

Compared to a year ago, average wages were higher in Ontario (+1.0%), while all other provinces saw declines. The largest decreases in average weekly earnings were observed in Maritime provinces and Saskatchewan.

Compared to February 2020, average wages were higher in all provinces, with the largest increases in percentage terms reported in Ontario (+11.2%), British Columbia (+9.7%) and Quebec (+8.8%). The slowest growth in average weekly earnings was observed in Newfoundland and Labrador (+1.7%) and New Brunswick (+3.2%). 

Compared to January-May 2020, Nova Scotia's average wages were up 1.1% in January-May 2021. Nationally, average wages were up 4.8% in the first five months of the year. Average wages were higher in all provinces except Newfoundland and Labrador (-0.9%), with the largest increases in percentage terms reported in Ontario (+6.8%) and British Columbia and Quebec (both +4.8%). 

In January-May2021, average weekly earnings were up 1.9% in Nova Scotia's goods producing sectors over January-May 2020. Goods sector wages were up for construction and manufacturing sectors. Service sector average earnings were up 0.8% in January-May 2021. Service sector earnings increased the most in percentage terms in transportation/warehousing, finance and insurance, and administration and support services. Service sector earnings decreased the most in health care and social assistance and information and culture.

REFERENCE TABLES - (January-May 2021 vs January-May 2020)

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 14-10-0222-01 Employment, average hourly and weekly earnings (including overtime), and average weekly hours for the industrial aggregate excluding unclassified businesses, monthly, seasonally adjusted; Table 14-10-0223-01 Employment and average weekly earnings (including overtime) for all employees by province and territory, monthly, seasonally adjusted