NWT’s employment rate is highest in almost a decade

The Northwest Territories reached an employment rate of 73.7 percent in March, the highest recorded in the territory since August 2013.

The March figure, released by the NWT Bureau of Statistics late last week, means almost three-quarters of NWT residents aged 15 or over had some form of work last month.

The NWT’s employment rate is the highest in Canada right now, with the Yukon closest – some five percent behind – and the Canadian average sitting at 60.5 percent.


Around 25,200 people in the NWT were employed in March, the first time (thanks in part to gradual population growth) that the territory has crossed the 25,000 employment marker.

Yellowknife currently holds one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada at four percent, compared to 5.3 percent in Whitehorse and six percent in Iqaluit. Only some areas of Quebec report a lower rate. Calgary and Edmonton, by comparison, each have unemployment rates of around seven percent.

Alongside those numbers is an increase in the participation rate – the percentage of residents aged 15 or over who either have jobs or are actively trying to find one.

For the first time since 2016, the participation rate in the NWT rose above 77 percent in March. During the opening months of the pandemic that rate sunk as low as 68 percent, the lowest figure the territory has recorded this century.

Together, a high participation rate and low unemployment rate usually reflect a robust job market.


Employers in Yellowknife have described a “really hot labour market” as they try to attract staff.

“We really need to be forward-looking,” employment minister RJ Simpson told Cabin Radio last week, “because we have a lot of jobs in the territory and we don’t have enough people to fill all the jobs. We don’t have enough people with the right training.”