Statistics for Employment, Earnings and Hours, May 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. See below for highlights, or click here for more information.

Earnings and Payroll Highlights 

  • 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.
  • 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%).
  • In January-May 2021, payroll employment was up 6.9% in Nova Scotia’s goods producing sectors compared to January-May 2020.
    • For the construction sector specifically, payroll employment was up 8.7% in this period, compared to the same time last year.
  • Nova Scotians’ average weekly earnings (including overtime, seasonally adjusted) increased 3.8% (+$36.27) from April 2021 to $991.52 in May 2021
  • 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%).

*Note: 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.