Halifax Index 2024

Labour

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LABOUR MARKET TIGHTNESS EASES IN 2023

Halifax added more than 11,000 jobs in 2023 — and had the highest growth rate in employment over 2022 of all benchmark cities. Nonetheless, the annual unemployment rate rose from 4.9% in 2022 to 5.5% in 2023.

Job growth was led by information, culture, and recreation; accommodation and food services; manufacturing; and public administration. However, construction; business, building and other support services; utilities; and professional, scientific, and technical services all reported job losses over 2022.

Fewer job vacancies and Business Confidence Survey results showing reduced difficulties filling positions indicate some easing of recent labour market pressures. The continuing impact of elevated inflation, however, has led to a spike in person-days lost to strikes and other work stoppages.

Halifax Index 2024
Labour Force

In 2023, Halifax led all benchmark cities in the rate of job growth at 4.4%. More than 11,000 jobs were added over 2022.

The labour force participation rate rose slightly to 68.0% in 2023, in the middle among benchmark cities.

The annual unemployment rate for 2023 was 5.5%, up from 4.9% in 2022. The 2023 unemployment rates for youth (ages 15 - 24), males, and females were, respectively, 10.8%, 5.8%, and 5.2%.

Approximately two-thirds of surveyed businesses expect to have no employees regularly working remotely in 2024, while approximately one in seven anticipate that more than half of their employees will regularly work remotely.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, Table 14-10-0385-01

Total Employment

  • Employment in Halifax grew to 263,600 jobs in 2023, a record high.
  • The annual increase of 11,200 jobs (+4.4%) was slightly below the 12,300 (+5.4%) and 11,600 (+4.8%) levels recorded in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
  • Halifax’s employment growth rate in 2023 (+4.4%) was the highest across all benchmark cities.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, Table 14-10-0385-01

Labour Force Participation Rate

  • Halifax’s labour force participation rate increased slightly to 68.0% in 2023, up from 67.5% in 2022.
  • Among our 10 benchmark cities, Halifax ranked sixth highest.
  • Calgary had the highest participation rate in 2023 at 71.0%, while St. John’s had the lowest at 65.1%.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, Table 14-10-0385-01

Unemployment Rate by Age

  • Halifax’s annual unemployment rate in 2023 was 5.5%, up from 4.9% in 2022.
  • Halifax was in the middle among benchmark cities with unemployment rates ranging from 2.7% in Quebec City to 6.3% in Toronto.
  • For youth (ages 15 - 24) Halifax’s unemployment rate in 2023 was 10.8%, up from 9.9% in 2022. This, again, placed Halifax in the middle of benchmark cities between the bookends of Quebec City and Toronto.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, Table 14-10-0385-01

Unemployment Rate by Sex

  • Halifax’s unemployment rates for men and women both rose in 2023, to 5.8% (up from 5.2%) and 5.2% (up from 4.7%), respectively.
  • Quebec City has the lowest unemployment rate for both men and women. Toronto posted the highest rate for women, and St. John’s had the highest rate for men.
  • Halifax was one of six benchmark cities in which the unemployment rate for men was higher than the rate for women. Halifax’s gap of 0.6 percentage points between the male and female rates (in absolute-value terms) was also in the middle among benchmark cities.

Questions: "Approximately what percentage of your employees worked remotely in the past year, on a regular basis? Was it …:" and "And approximately what percentage of your employees will work remotely in [2024], on a regular basis? Will it be …:"
Source: Narrative Research, Business Confidence Survey (Various)

Share of Employees Working Remotely

  • The share of employees working remotely was largely unchanged from 2022 to 2023 and is expected to remain so through 2024.
  • Approximately one-third of surveyed businesses expected that some of their workforce would work remotely on a regular basis in 2024.
  • After falling from 14.5% in 2022 to 11.8% in 2023, the share of surveyed businesses expecting half or more of their employees to regularly work remotely in 2024 rose to 14.0%.

Halifax Index 2024
Industries

Halifax added 11,200 jobs in 2023. The service sector grew by 12,600 positions while employment in the goods sector dropped by 1,300.

By industry,1job growth from 2022 to 2023 was led by information, culture, and recreation with 3,900 new positions (+39%). Accommodation and food services ranked second at 2,000 jobs (+13%) followed by manufacturing (+15%) and public administration (+10%), which both grew by 1,900 positions.

From 2022 to 2023, employment declined in four industries: construction (-2,700, -13%); business, building and other support services (-1,900, -18%); utilities (-800, -32%); and professional, scientific, and technical services (-400, -1%).

Over the decade from 2013 to 2023, all industries saw job growth except business, building and support services (-2,800); forestry, fishing, mining, quarrying, and oil and gas (-800); and utilities (-500). Adding together job growth in educational services, health care and social assistance, and public administration as a proxy, public sector employment grew by 10,000 positions as compared to the 10-year growth of 31,100 positions in the rest of the economy.

Looking at employment by occupational group, four of the top-10 positions are in sales, support, customer service, and food-support occupations. Nursing and health care support positions also make the top 10. New to the list of top occupations in 2023 is secondary, elementary, and kindergarten school teachers.

From 2013 to 2023, the largest job increases were in white collar professions such as policy and regulatory positions, accounting, human resources, and computer and software jobs. The largest declines came in retail and office-support positions.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, Table 14-10-0384-01

Employment by Industry

  • As was the case in 2021 and 2022, wholesale and retail trade; health care and social assistance; and professional, scientific, and technical services ranked in the top-three for employment by industry in Halifax in 2023.
  • From 2022 to 2023, employment grew slightly in both the wholesale and retail trade (+800) and health care and social assistance sectors (+300), but it declined marginally in professional, scientific, and technical services (-400).
  • Information, culture, and recreation posted the largest employment gain (+3,900) from 2022 to 2023.
  • The largest annual decrease was in the construction sector (-2,700), which fell from fourth to seventh in the rankings.

Data for agriculture are suppressed.
Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, Table 14-10-0384-01

10-Year Change in Employment by Industry

  • Over the past decade, the largest growth in employment has been in the professional, scientific, and technical services sector (+8,000) followed by finance, insurance, and real estate (+6,600).
  • On a percentage-growth basis, finance, insurance, and real estate had the greatest growth (+46.8%) with manufacturing coming in second (+44.0%).
  • Three industries experienced a decline in employment from 2013 to 2023. The largest drop was in business, building, and other support services (-2,800).

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, Table 14-10-0420-01 via the Community Data Program

Largest Occupations by Employment

  • As in 2022, the occupations with the largest employment in Halifax in 2023 were retail sales, cashier, and food-support positions. Customer-service representatives also made the top 10.
  • Among the top-10 occupations, the largest increases from 2022 to 2023 occurred in auditors, accountants, and investment professionals (+2,100) and cashiers and other sales support occupations (+1,100).
  • Large employment declines among the top-10 from 2022 to 2023 occurred in retail salespersons and non-technical wholesale trade sales and account representatives (-1,400) and in nursing and allied health professionals (-1,000).
  • New entries to the 2023 top-10 list include secondary, elementary, and kindergarten school teachers and assisting occupations in support of health services.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, Table 14-10-0420-01 via the Community Data Program

Largest Changes in Occupational Employment

  • Over a 10-year timeframe, occupational employment growth was led by policy and program researchers, consultants, and officers (+3,400); auditors, accountants, and investment professionals (+3,200); and human resources and business service professionals (+2,900).
  • The largest percentage increases among this group occurred in policy and program researchers, consultants, and officers (+200%); program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport, and fitness (+155%); and computer and information systems professionals (+141%).

Halifax Index 2024
Business Hiring

While there certainly remain employers who face difficulty finding and retaining workers, the pressures eased somewhat in 2023.

Both job vacancies and the job vacancy rate dropped sharply in 2023, and they ended the year close to pre-pandemic levels.

Survey results showed a decline in the share of businesses reporting difficulties in hiring and a record high in the share who reported having no difficulty.

However, elevated levels of inflation led to increased labour action as workers sought pay raises in response to the rising cost of living. Just over 90,000 person-days were lost to work stoppages across 2022 and 2023 combined, while the 15-year period from 2007 through 2021 had just over 100,000 person-days lost in total.

Data were unavailable for Q2 and Q3 2020.
Source: Statistics Canada, Job Vacancy and Wage Survey, Table 14-10-0441-01

Job Vacancy Rate

  • The number of job vacancies and the job vacancy rate for Halifax both dropped steadily over 2023.
  • By Q4 2023, the job vacancy rate dropped to 3.3%, the lowest rate since early 2021.
  • The number of job vacancies in Halifax declined from more than 12,000 at the end of 2022 to just over 7,700 in the last quarter of 2023. This was Halifax’s lowest job vacancy level since mid-2021.

Question: "All things considered, would you say your organization within the Halifax area has experienced a great deal of difficulty, some difficulty, very little difficulty, or no difficulty, in terms of filling staff vacancies in the past two years?"
Shares exclude responses of: "Haven't hired new employees in the past two years".
Source: Narrative Research, Business Confidence Survey (Various)

Difficulties Filling Job Vacancies

  • Since this question was first asked in early 2020, the share of respondents stating that they faced “no difficulty” in filling job vacancies hit a new high in 2024 at 30.7%.
  • The combined share of those citing “a great deal of” or “some difficulty” dropped to just under half at 49.8% in 2024. Only in 2021, in the midst of the pandemic, was this figure lower at 48.3%.
  • At 17.5%, the share citing “a great deal of difficulty” was down substantially from the peak of 29.2% in 2022.

Source: Statistics Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, Table 14-10-0352-01

Work Stoppages by Sector

  • The long-term view shows that labour strife tends to be correlated with rising inflation, and this pattern appears to hold for Halifax as inflation spiked in 2022 and remains elevated compared to recent decades.
  • More than 50,000 person-days were lost to strikes and other work stoppages in 2023, up from approximately 40,000 in 2022. These are the highest figures recorded since 2006.
  • The more than 90,000 person-days lost in 2022 and 2023 occurred almost entirely in the public sector.

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