Economic Scan - Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut: Interim Report



  • The combined population in Canada's three territories reached 129,920 in 2022, an increase of 1.1% (+1,362) year-over-year.
  • Yukon's population grew by a moderate 1.2% (+539) to 43,789 between 2021 and 2022. The territory has the oldest population among the three territories with a median age of 39.2 years according to the 2021 Census.
  • Population in the Northwest Territories (NWT) was unchanged between 2021 and 2022, sitting at 45,605.
  • Population growth in Nunavut was strong, up 2.1% (+815) to 40,526 in 2022 compared to the previous year. The territory's median age of 25.6 years is the youngest across the country, due in part to higher fertility rates and lower life expectancies.
The median ages in all three territories are younger than the national median age 41.6 (Census 2021).

According to the 2021 Census, 60,235 people representing 51.7% 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%).

The number of immigrants moving to the Territories in 2021/2022 more than doubled and surpassed the previous record set during the year before the COVID-19 pandemic. Northwest Territories and Nunavut recorded significant increases of immigrants arriving, up 148% and 140% respectively between 2021 and 2022. In Yukon, 663 immigrants arrived in 2022 compared to 300 in 2021, the highest number in the territory's record.

Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) individuals 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 51.7% of the total population, well above the national average (4.9%).

About 21% of the Territories' population aged 15 years and over self-identify as having a disability, a lower proportion than the national average (22.3%) in 2017. 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.

Labour Market Conditions

In 2022...


Labour force increased (+3.6%)


Employment increased significantly (+3.7%)


Unemployment increased (+2.2%)

Territories Unemployment Rate

Show data table: Unemployment Rate
Unemployment Rate (%)
Year Yukon Northwest Territories Nunavut
2012 7.1 8.3 15.7
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
  • The combined employment of three territories increased considerably between 2021 and 2022, up 3.7% to 62,300, as the Territories' labour market continued to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In 2022, the unemployment rate for the combined territories only dropped slightly (-0.1%) from the previous year. Both Yukon and NWT posted a decrease in their unemployment rate over the year, reaching 4.5% and 5.0% respectively. Nunavut was the only territory to record an increase in its unemployment rate (+3.6 percentage points to 14%).

Economic Conditions

Forecasted GDP Growth Rate in Yukon,
Northwest Territories and Nunavut

Show data table: Forecasted GDP Growth Rate
Forecasted GDP Growth Rate in the Territories
Year Yukon Northwest Territories Nunavut
2022 5.5% -0.4% 2.0%
2023 4.4% -0.4% 7.4%
2024 6.4% 0.8% 12.3%
2025 4.8% -0.6% -4.8%
  • The Territories' economic growth is expected to be strong over the next two years as it continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Several mining and construction projects slated to begin across the three territories in the short-term will provide a boost to employment.
  • Funding from all levels of government for health care and education initiatives should also create new employment opportunities in the North.
  • Nunavut's economic growth is forecasted to be the strongest among all three territories over the short-term. The territory's GDP will rise 7.4% in 2023. Yukon's economy is expected to grow more moderately, with GDP to grow 4.4% this year.
  • Northwest Territories' GDP is projected to contract slightly in 2023 (-0.4%) as the territory struggles to recover from the pandemic. However, the territory's economy is expected to bounce back 0.8% in 2024.

Regional Issues


Net inter-provincial migration was negative over the past five years in NWT and Nunavut. This trend is mainly due to large proportion of residents opting to pursue opportunities in the south where employment prospects are often more plentiful. In Nunavut, 5,069 residents chose to leave the territory between 2017/2018 and 2021/2022, while NWT recorded 10,051 people opting to leave the territory.

Net inter-provincial migration in Yukon remained positive from 2017/2018 to 2021/2022, with 6,111 people opting to leave the territory and 7,610 choosing it as their new home. This is likely a reflection of Yukon's strong economic performance over the past several years.

Regional Economic Conditions

  • Employment in the Territories has climbed above pre-pandemic level in 2022.
  • The number of people employed in all three territories increased between 2021 and 2022. The largest annual increase occurred in Northwest Territories (+5.1%).
  • Employment levels in Yukon and Nunavut grew more moderately, increasing 3.5% and 1.4% respectively.

Employment Growth in Territories, 2022

Show data table
Territories Employment Growth (%)
Economic Region Employment Growth (%)
Northwest Territories 5.1
Total territories 3.7
Yukon 3.5
Nunavut 1.4


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