NWT employment rate highest in nearly a decade

The Northwest Territories hit an employment rate of 73.7% in March, the highest for the territory since August 2013.

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

The Northwest Territories’ employment rate is the highest in Canada at present, with the closest Yukon – around five per cent behind – and the Canadian average standing at 60.5 per cent.


About 25,200 people in the NWT were employed in March, the first time (thanks in part to gradual population growth) that the territory has passed the 25,000 job mark.

Yellowknife currently has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada, at 4%, compared to 5.3% in Whitehorse and 6% in Iqaluit. Only certain regions of Quebec report a lower rate. Calgary and Edmonton, by comparison, each have unemployment rates around 7%.

Along with these numbers is an increase in the participation rate – the percentage of residents aged 15 or over who are employed or actively trying to find one.

For the first time since 2016, voter turnout in the NWT topped 77% in March. In the first months of the pandemic, that rate fell to 68%, the lowest figure the territory has recorded this century.


Together, a high participation rate and a low unemployment rate generally reflect a robust labor market.

Yellowknife employers have described a “really hot job market” as they try to attract staff.

“We really have 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 occupy all positions. We don’t have enough people with the right training.