With one of the worst economic performance records of any province over the past 20 years, previous Nova Scotia governments could only hope to boast about having the “lowest unemployment levels in Atlantic Canada.” Nova Scotia’s boasting may carry farther west, if recent Stats Canada data is any indication.
Comparing year-to-year employment rates, it shows that Nova Scotia had the strongest change in the employment rate (+0.9%), followed by Alberta (+0.8%) and PEI (+0.6%), over the past 12 months. As with good public opinion poll numbers, the NDP doesn’t tend to trumpet positive job number news. It’s good to be cautious when comparing month to month statistics, as they will show wild variations due to Statistics Canada’s sample size. However, comparing year-to-year shows a positive trend.
Since employment rates can improve when people stop looking for work, it is important to also check the participation rate trend. We did: the top three provinces to see improvement in their participation rate over the same period were: Newfoundland (+0.8%), Nova Scotia and Alberta (+0.2%).
Mirroring these two positive statistical trends is the unemployment rate numbers. And here too Nova Scotia ranks in the top 3 of provinces that saw a dip in their respective year-to-year unemployment rates: BC: (-1.8%), Nova Scotia (-1.2%) and Alberta (-0.7%).
In sum, these stats show real positive change over the past 12 months in the Nova Scotia economy. But, maybe the most interesting fact is that Stats Canada reports that counties outside of Halifax added 3,300 jobs last year.
Here on the North Shore, jobs have passed their pre-recession peak, despite most of Canada seeing few signs of recovery. Nova Scotian manufacturing jobs fled Nova Scotia long before the global recession, vanishing from 2000-2009. Nova Scotians should be hopeful that the recent uptick in manufacturing will continue.
It will take time to get Nova Scotia’s manufacturing sector back on its feet. We will continue to see 10 manufacturing jobs in one town and 30 jobs in another as the government, workers and industry rebuild rural Nova Scotia.
As we saw in the Ships Start Here campaign, Nova Scotians are proud to be builders. We need an economy that is made to last, and that starts with manufacturing and the high paying jobs they bring. A job at a steel plant, a ship yard and lumber mill – they have long been a Nova Scotian family’s ticket to the middle class. Today, Nova Scotians can add building wind turbines, LED lights and solar panels to that list. Manufacturing towns are coming back to life.