May rate of 9.2% is third straight month of increase, highest since 2009
Nova Scotia’s unemployment rate surged to 9.2 per cent in May, the highest level since July 2009 and the third month in a row the province’s jobless rate has worsened.
Statistics Canada’s latest labour force survey released Friday painted a bleak picture of Nova Scotia’s job market.
The unemployment rate remained stuck above the national average, which stayed steady at 7.3 per cent in May after two months of strong gains.
And while the jobless rate in Nova Scotia continues to be the lowest in the Atlantic region, both New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador posted job gains last month.
Charles Cirtwill, president and CEO of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, said the modest growth in other Atlantic provinces reflects a friendlier business environment and lower taxes.
“When you look at Newfoundland’s job numbers, clearly the opportunities they have there on the island and in Labrador are starting to show in terms of private-sector investment,” Cirtwill said.
“New Brunswick invested in low taxes several years ago and you’re seeing, compared to the rest of us, a relatively robust private-sector rebound.”
The head of the Halifax think-tank added that in “Nova Scotia we have high taxes and a government-dependent economy and we haven’t really done anything to break ourselves of either one of those things.”
In all, 1,000 jobs vanished from Nova Scotia’s workforce in May, shedding 3,700 full-time jobs but gaining 2,700 part-time jobs — a bright spot in the province’s employment picture.
From strawberry pickers to ice cream scoopers, seasonal industries like fishing, agricultural and tourism appear to be ramping up for the summer.
Sugah Confectionery & Ice Cream Emporium on the Halifax waterfront has just hired a handful of part-time workers to handle large summertime crowds that flock to the shop.
“We’re always busy in the summer,” said Ashley Sigsworth, manager of Sugah and sister company Rum Runners Rum Cake Factory at Bishop’s Landing.
“When the weather is really nice or a cruise ship is here, we have long lineups, so we need the extra staff.
“We have full-time, year-round staff but during our busiest period in the summer months we definitely rely on extra workers, both full time and part time.”
Sugah, which also sells chocolate, fudge, peanut brittle, sponge toffee and other candies in addition to a wide selection of ice cream, may hire more staff depending on how the season unfolds, Sigsworth said.
Meanwhile, in a possible sign that <JU>university students have landed summer jobs, more young people aged 15 to 24 found work in May.
According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate for that age group fell to 17 per cent from 19.6 per cent in April.
The provincial Finance Department highlighted a few other rosy spots in the latest job figures.
Andrew Preeper, a spokesman for the department, said longer-term trends are more indicative of how the economy is performing.
Nova Scotia’s average employment from January to May was up 5,400 or 1.2 per cent compared with the same period last year.
“This reflects gains in both part-time and full-time employment compared with last year,” Preeper said in a release.
But the province lost a total of 6,000 jobs from February to May.
Construction, manufacturing and transportation reported decreases in employment while job gains were concentrated in agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining and trade.