Economic Scan - Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut: 2023



  • In 2023, the total population across Canada's three territories reached 130,620, an increase of 1.2% (+1,545) compared to the previous year.
  • Population growth in the Yukon was strong, up 2.4% (+1,070) to 44,975 in 2023 compared to 2022. The median age of 38.5 years is the oldest among the three territories.
  • The population of the Northwest Territories (NWT) increased by 0.6% (+287) to 44,972 between 2022 and 2023, coming close to matching the population in Yukon.
  • Nunavut's population grew 0.5% (+188) to 40,673 year-over-year. The territory's median age of 26.7 years is the youngest in the country, due in part to higher fertility rates and lower life expectancies.
The median ages in each of the three territories are below the national median age of 40.6.

According to the 2021 Census, 60,235 people representing 51.0% of the Territories' total population identified themselves as Indigenous. However, labour force participation among the Territories' Indigenous population is much lower compared to the non-Indigenous population due in large part to lower levels of educational attainment. Indigenous population in Nunavut, for example, has the lowest participation rate in Canada (52.3%).

Black, Indigenous, and people of color make up 60.5% of the population in the territories, almost twice as much as the national average (30.9%). Indigenous people are the largest group of racialized Canadians in the territories, representing 51.0% of the total population, well above the national average (4.9%).

The number of immigrants arriving in the Territories fell in 2022/2023 from the previous year. Northwest Territories recorded a significant drop of immigrants moving to the territory, down 18.5% to 282 between 2022 and 2023. In Nunavut, 45 immigrants arrived in 2023 compared to 53 in 2022. Yukon was the only territory that recorded an increase of immigrants arriving, up 2.0% to 677.

About 26% of the Territories' population aged 15 years and over self-identify as having a disability, a lower proportion than the national average (27%) in 2022. Yukon has a significantly higher disability rate than NWT and Nunavut. The differences in the prevalence of disability among the three territories may be due to different age compositions and the fact that the proportion of young people in Yukon is lower than in NWT and Nunavut. Nunavut has the highest proportion of youth among all provinces and regions and the lowest disability rate in the country.

Source : Statistics Canada - Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) 2022.

Labour Market Conditions

In 2023...


Labour Force decreased moderately (-0.6%)


Employment decreased slightly (-0.5%)


Unemployment rate decreased slightly (-0.1pp)

Territories Unemployment Rate

Show data table
Unemployment Rate (%)
Year Yukon Northwest Territories Nunavut
2013 6.3 7.9 15.1
2014 5.1 8.1 14.8
2015 6.0 9.1 16.0
2016 6.2 7.9 14.9
2017 4.3 7.4 15.2
2018 3.9 7.7 14.0
2019 4.1 6.9 14.0
2020 5.6 9.5 15.6
2021 6.3 6.0 10.4
2022 4.5 5.0 14.0
2023 3.6 5.9 13.2


  • The combined employment in the three territories dropped slightly, down 0.5% to 62,000 between 2022 and 2023. Employment gains in the Yukon was offset by losses in Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
  • In 2023, the unemployment rate for the combined Territories only dropped slightly (-0.1pp) from the previous year. Both Yukon and Nunavut posted a decrease in their unemployment rate over the year, reaching 3.6% and 13.2% respectively.
  • Northwest Territories was the only territory to record an increase in its unemployment rate (+0.9 percentage points to 5.9%).

Economic Conditions

Territories' Economic Drivers in 2023

New mining projects

Busy construction sector

Vast mineral potential

Forecasted GDP Growth Rate in Yukon,
Northwest Territories and Nunavut

Source : The Conference Board of Canada E-data. September 2023.

Show data table
Forecasted GDP Growth Rate in the Territories
Year Yukon Northwest Territories Nunavut
2023 2.4% 0.4% 5.5%
2024 3.4% 1.5% 9.7%
2025 2.7% -1.8% 6.4%
2026 2.3% 5.2% -6.2%


    Reviewing 2023...

  • The Territories' economy faces many challenges such as natural disasters, lack of infrastructure and affordable housing and high material and living costs that post significant hindrances to its economic growth.
  • The Territories' economic outlook remains optimistic in the short-term. Funding from all levels of government for new infrastructure projects and several mining development projects set to begin over the next two years will create employment opportunities across the north.
  • Nunavut's GDP is forecast to rise considerably (+9.7%) in 2024 as mineral production in the territory is expected to peak over the next two years. Yukon's economy will grow more moderately, with GDP projected to grow 3.4% in 2024.
  • Northwest Territories' GDP is projected to grow 1.5% in 2024 as the territory struggles to recover from the wildfire season last summer which significantly impacted its economy.

Risks to the Territories' Economy in 2024

  • Inflationary pressures may further hamper household spendings.
  • Cooling global economy could affect on demand for commodities in the Territories.
  • Lack of infrastructure in northern territories is a barrier to investment.
  • A tight labour market across the three territories will continue to present challenges to business growth in 2023. A lack of workers in key sectors may result in higher prices as demands on a limited labour pool remain high.

Regional Issues


Over the past five years, Northwest Territories and Nunavut experienced a decline in net inter-provincial migration. This trend is mainly due to large proportion of residents opting to pursue opportunities in the south where employment prospects are often more plentiful. Between 2018/2019 and 2022/2023, 5,587 residents opted to depart from Nunavut.

From 2018/2019 to 2022/2023, net inter-provincial migration in Yukon stayed positive, with 6,617 individuals deciding to depart the territory and 8,107 selecting it as their new home. This is likely a reflection of Yukon's strong economic performance over the past several years.

Industry Trends

Employment Change by Industry in Territories, 2023

Show data table
Employment Change by Industry in Territories, 2023
Industry (NAICS) Employment Change('000s) Percent Change(%)
Transportation and warehousing +0.7 +22.6
Public administration +0.4 +2.8
Other services +0.4 +21.1
Professional, scientific and technical services +0.3 +12.0
Finance, insurance, real estate and leasing +0.3 +15.8
Construction +0.2 +4.4
Utilities +0.1 +14.3
Business, building and other support services +0.0 +0.0
Information, culture and recreation -0.2 -6.7
Educational services -0.2 -3.0
Health care and social assistance -0.2 -2.2
Manufacturing -0.3 -60.0
Trade -0.3 -4.2
Forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas -0.4 -15.4
Accommodation and food services -0.6 -23.1


  • The transportation and warehousing sector gained 700 jobs annually in 2023. This positive trend is anticipated to continue, as increased private and public funding investment in training initiatives, such as aviation programs, will help the sector's ongoing growth.
  • The Territories' mining sector will experience steady growth in the short-term as major mining projects are expected to boost this outlook. Project such as the Osisko Metals' Pine Point Mine project in NWT alone, will create 500 jobs during construction and 400 during mining operations over the next few years.
  • Strong growth is expected on the Territories' construction sector. Housing initiatives will help provide positive short-term employment prospects for the sector, particularly in Yukon and Nunavut. The federal government will build 190 housing units in the Yukon over three years through its $11M Housing Accelerator Fund. The Yukon government is providing $5M towards the 105-unit Winter Crossing housing project in Whitehorse.

Regional Economic Conditions

  • Between 2022 and 2023, Yukon was the only territory to record an increase in its employment, up 2.6% (+600) to 24,000.
  • In 2023, employment dropped slightly in Nunavut, down -0.7% (-100) to 14,100. Meanwhile, the number of people employed in NWT dropped considerably, with employment falling by 3.2% (-800) to 23,900.
  • The decline in employment in the Northwest Territories can be attributed to the severe wildfire season last summer, which had a significant impact on both employment and the economy in the territory.

Employment Change in Territories, 2023

Show data table
Employment Change in Territories, 2023
Economic Region Percent Change(%) Employment Change('000s)
Yukon +2.6 +0.6
Total territories -0.5 -0.3
Nunavut -0.7 -0.1
Northwest Territories -3.2 -0.8


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