Labour

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Halifax In A Strong Position Before Covid-19

Halifax saw strong overall growth in its labour force in 2019. In recent years the city has experienced uncharacteristically large increases in employment, the participation rate, and the overall size of the labour pool, especially among the city’s youth.

Much of this was driven by new jobs in health care, retail trade, and professional services. Primary industries such as forestry and fishing also saw significant employment growth in relative terms.

Growing attention is also being paid to the phenomenon of precarious work. Looking at the quality of employment in Halifax before the COVID-19 crisis, roughly half of employees reported being satisfied with their current number of work hours. Younger and lower-income workers, however, generally expressed a lower level of satisfaction. Overall employees were generally satisfied and optimistic about the stability and predictability of their working hours.

COVID-19 Impact

COVID-19 has had an immense and negative effect on Halifax’s labour market, as well as the province and the entire country. It is difficult to understate the enormity of these impacts; declines in employment overshadow any previous recession. Halifax was well positioned going into the crisis, with significant labour force growth in 2019. However, this must be viewed in the context of the current recession and the impacts that COVID-19 has had on the economy.

As we begin to understand the economic impacts of the pandemic, two things are clear. First, the effects have not been distributed evenly across all sectors of the economy. Industries such as accommodation, construction, retail trade, and tourism have experienced a much steeper economic contraction. Second, youth and women saw particularly large declines in employment. Initial job losses in March and April 2020 have disproportionally affected those in new roles, part-time jobs, and junior positions.

Furthermore, the accommodation, trade, and construction sectors are especially important to the economy of rural Halifax. They represent a larger share of businesses in rural regions than in the rest of the city. Impacts on these sectors will disproportionately affect those living and working in rural Halifax.

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