Population attraction and retention is more important than ever before. Between 2001 and 2015, net migration accounted for two-thirds of Halifax’s population growth.

Key Findings


  • Halifax’s population climbed to just under 418,000 in 2015, growing by 1.0% compared to 2014. This rate of growth was on par with the national average and middle of the pack among benchmark cities.

                                     Population Estimates

  • Population growth has improved slightly over the past two years, in contrast to slowing (though typically still higher) growth in resourcedriven economies across the country. Increasing growth was due to reduced interprovincial outmigration and increased international immigration.

  • Population gains were concentrated in two age groups. The largest was among those age 55 and older, who added 3,800 people as a result of natural aging. Second were 35-39-year-olds who added 2,600 individuals, a much larger number than usual due to improved migration trends as economic weakness in the West reduced the pull for young workers.

                                   Population Change

  • Overall, post-secondary enrolments remained steady in the 2014-15 school year as declining numbers of Nova Scotia-born students offset steady growth in out-of-province students and the continuing rapid increase of international students studying in Halifax. Smaller incoming cohorts of Nova Scotia high school students suggest that this trend will likely continue for a few years.
                                    International Students

  • The aging workforce and the increasing number of retirements are constraining growth in the Halifax labour force and in employment. Though the working-age population has continued to grow, a slow but steady decline in the participation rate has continued since 2009, limiting labour force growth to a modest 0.5% in 2015.
                                      Employment Levels

Key Opportunity

Declining workforce participation rates and modest labour force growth in the past few years highlight the continued importance of young worker and immigrant attraction and retention to grow the Halifax and Nova Scotia economies. Efforts to integrate immigrants and recent graduates into the labour force are as vital now as they have ever been.

Download the full 2016 Halifax Index for more information on the following topics in this section:

  • Population
  • Education
  • Labour Force
  • Workplace Safety

Halifax Index Cover

The Halifax Index 2016 (PDF)

2016 Halifax Index Workbook (.xls)