Goal 8

Employment Rate - First Nations and African Nova Scotians - Deep Dive

The employment rate for First Nations and African Nova Scotians (ANS) will be equal to the provincial average.


Employment Rate - First Nations and African Nova Scotians

It is important to make a proper distinction between the employment rate and the participation rate. Definitions used by Statistics Canada and the Canadian census are:

Employment rate: is the number of persons employed in the week of Sunday, May 1 to Saturday, May 7, 2016, expressed as a percentage of the total population aged 15 years and over. The employment rate for a group (age, sex, marital status, geographic area, etc.) is the number of employed persons in that group, expressed as a percentage of the total population in that group.

Participation rate: refers to the labour force in the week of Sunday, May 1 to Saturday, May 7, 2016, expressed as a percentage of the population aged 15 years and over. The participation rate for a group (age, sex, marital status, geographic area, etc.) is the total labour force in that group, expressed as a percentage of the total population in that group.

Equally relevant to the discussion, is defining the targeted groups.

Identity is complex, and ethnic origin data are fluid and limited. It must be acknowledged that individuals and population groups that may or may not be similar, or face the same barriers, are grouped together. This may or may not be appropriate or accurately reflect the lived experiences of people. 

There are varying definitions of who is considered a member of the African Nova Scotian community. Two respondents with similar ethnic ancestry could offer different responses to Statistics Canada and be counted as having different ethnic origins. For example, all who are Black in Nova Scotia may not identify as being African Nova Scotians, but rather as a person of African or Caribbean descent living in Nova Scotia (e.g.: newcomers from the African diaspora). Regardless of an individual’s African or Caribbean origins/descent, if an individual selected ‘Black’ on the Census, the OneNS dashboard considers them African Nova Scotian -- even if they may not self-identify as members of the historic African Nova Scotian population.

The Aboriginal Identity population includes those who identify as First Nations, Métis, Inuk (Inuit), and those reporting multiple or other Aboriginal identities. The most common identity group in Nova Scotia is First Nations, although the Métis population has been growing in recent years. The Census of Population reports that of the First Nations population in Nova Scotia, one in five lived on reserves in 2015. It is important to consider that different barriers to labour market participation exist for different identity groups, especially for those living on reserve. To that end, data for the First Nations and overall Aboriginal Identity populations are presented below.

Moving forward, more statistical work and input from communities is needed to develop richer data sources. However, we have decided to include the data currently available as we believe that they shine a light on the data gaps and begin, at a basic level, to statistically highlight some of the disparity that must be corrected.

YearTotal Employment rateAboriginal Identity Population Employment RateFirst Nations Employment RateANS Employment RateTotal Participation rateAboriginal Identity Population Participation RateFirst Nations Participation RateANS Participation Rate

Employment Rates, unadjusted

Group 1996 2001 2006 2011** 2016
Total Population (Nova Scotia) 52.9% 54.9% 57.2% 56.8% 55.2%
Aboriginal Identity Population N/A* 47.4% 53.2% 52.8% 53.5%
First Nations Population  N/A* 44.1% 48.8% 48.9% 49.5%
Black - Racially Visible Status  45.8% 48.8% 55.7% 54.1% 53.2%

*Differences in the enumeration of Aboriginal peoples in the Census makes comparison impossible.
**Data gathered from the voluntary National Household Survey may introduce response-bias.

Participation Rates, unadjusted 

Group 1996 2001 2006 2011** 2016
Total Population (Nova Scotia) 61.0% 61.6% 62.9% 63.1% 61.3%
Aboriginal Identity Population  N/A* 60.6% 63.0% 62.1% 62.6%
First Nations Population  N/A* 57.9% 59.8% 59.2% 59.6%
Black - Racially Visible Status  57.2% 57.2% 63.1% 63.3% 63.5%

*Differences in the enumeration of Aboriginal peoples in the Census makes comparison impossible.

The unadjusted data show an upward trend in both employment and labour force participation rates over time. However, unadjusted rates understate the differences in labour market outcomes for Aboriginal, First Nations, and African Nova Scotian populations compared to the provincial figure. It is important to recognize that differences in demographic factors between these populations, especially age, have an important impact on how their labour market outcomes are measured. Aboriginal, First Nations, and African Nova Scotian communities tend to have higher shares of their populations under the age of 45, and lower shares age 45 and over compared to the province overall. Further, younger populations -- especially in the 25 to 55 age range – tend to have higher labour force participation rates compared to other age groups. Without considering this, the overall employment and participation rates in these racially visible groups appear to be close to the provincial figure. The headline indicator, age adjusted employment rates for First Nations and African Nova Scotians, compensates for these age differences to make it comparable to the province overall.

This can be seen more clearly when looking at employment rates by age group. Though the total (unadjusted) employment rates are close to the provincial number, the employment rates for First Nations and African Nova Scotians are significantly lower than the provincial figure in each ten-year age group from 15 to 64 years of age. The gap is more pronounced for both groups between the ages of 25 and 54. Even though employment rates are lower for every ten-year age group, the higher share of young people in First Nations and African Nova Scotian populations pushes the total employment rate closer to the provincial total.

AgeTotal PopulationAboriginal IdentityFirst NationsAfrican NS
15 to 24 years49.2%40.5%34.4%42.9%
25 to 34 years76.5%67.4%61.1%66.1%
35 to 44 years81.4%73.6%66.4%74.9%
45 to 54 years77.80%68.80%63.60%68.80%
55 to 64 years55.10%50.70%45.60%53.50%
65 to 74 years17.10%16.80%14.80%17.10%
75 years and over3.30%3.10%2.80%2.60%

The same can be seen in participation rates by ten-year age groups. Though the overall (unadjusted) rates are almost identical to the provincial figure, the difference within each age group is more significant, up to the 45 to 54 age group.

GroupTotal PopulationAboriginal IdentityFirst NationsAfrican NS
15 to 24 years61.8%54.7%48.2%58.7%
25 to 34 years85.4%78.8%73.2%80.1%
35 to 44 years87.3%82.5%76.8%83.3%
45 to 54 years83.6%76.8%71.9%78.2%
55 to 64 years60.5%57.2%52.5%60.6%
65 to 74 years19.2%20.1%18.3%19.6%
75 years and over3.7%2.8%3.7%3.3%

In addition to having lower labour force participation rates, First Nations and African Nova Scotians that do participate also face significantly higher unemployment rates. This is even more pronounced when controlling for age. A higher unemployment rate for African Nova Scotians later in life may be related to longer periods of unemployment in younger years and statistically lower wages and levels of underemployment, leading to more time spent in the labour market to compensate for missed earnings.

AgeTotal PopulationAboriginal IdentityFirst NationsAfrican NS
15 to 24 years20.3%25.9%28.6%26.6%
25 to 34 years10.5%14.6%16.6%17.4%
35 to 44 years6.8%10.8%13.6%10.0%
45 to 54 years6.9%10.4%11.8%11.7%
55 to 64 years8.9%11.5%12.9%11.6%
65 to 74 years10.7%17.5%21.4%14.8%
75 years and over9.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%

Both the significant difference in unemployment rates and in participation levels require attention. Increasing the number of African Nova Scotians participating in labour without also improving employment and unemployment rates will hinder progress.

African Nova Scotian Males30.2%
Nova Scotian Males22.7%
African Canadian Males26.0%

African Nova Scotian Males18.7%
Nova Scotian Males11.6%
African Canadian Males13.1%

GroupAfrican Nova Scotian FemalesNova Scotian FemalesAfrican Canadian Females
15 and over14.3%8.4%12.2%
15 - 24 years23.8%18.0%22.6%
25 - 34 years15.8%9.3%13.1%

Changes to the indicator, baseline, or target:

The indicator was changed to an age-adjusted measure of the employment rate to control for differences in the demographic profiles of these population groups relative to the province overall. For First Nations and African Nova Scotians, the age-adjusted employment rate was calculated as the employment rate that would have prevailed if their age composition had been the same as the province. The age-adjusted employment rate was thus calculated as a weighted average of the employment rates for the ten-year age groups (15-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65-74, and 75 and over), weighted by the provincial population in each age group.

With that in mind, the following changes were made to the baseline and target:

• Changes to the baseline employment rates, to 46.4 per cent for First Nations, 52.2 per cent for the African Nova Scotian community, and 56.8 per cent for the province overall. Additionally, employment rates for the First Nations community in the original Ivany report reflected data for the larger Aboriginal community. We have included measures for both groups but the baseline reflects the First Nations population.

• The baseline gaps – the differences between the employment rate for the racially visible group in question and the provincial figure at the time the One NS goals were established – are 10.4 percentage points for First Nations and 4.5 percentage points for African Nova Scotians. The target gap for 2024 is zero in both cases.

• Though not included in the headline indicator, data on participation rates were added to the summary chart for context.

• Definitions of ‘African Nova Scotian’ vary notably. While a precise statistical proxy could not be identified, the Nova Scotia Community, Culture and Heritage African Nova Scotian Affairs (ANSA) definition was used for comparability. This may incidentally include some (such as newcomers from the African diaspora) who self-identify as being a member of a racially visible group, but do not self-identify as members of the African Nova Scotian community.

Note: The term ‘racially visible’ is substituted for 'visible minority'. For the purposes of this measure it represents the definition outlined by Statistics Canada in the 2016 Census of Population Dictionary. Thus, racially visible refers to: whether a person belongs to a ‘visible minority’ group as defined by the Employment Equity Act and the population group to which the person belongs. The Employment Equity Act defines ‘visible minorities’ – or in our terminology ‘racially visible’ – as "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour". The racially visible population, according to Statistics Canada, consists mainly of: South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean and Japanese.”