Employment Insurance, December 2012

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In December, the number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits fell for the third time in four months, down 8,300 (-1.6%) to 517,000. The recent decreases brought the number of beneficiaries down to a level similar to that of the spring of 2012.

All provinces had fewer beneficiaries in December, with the largest percentage decreases occurring in Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador as well as Manitoba.

Chart 1 
The number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries declines in December
Chart 1: The number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries declines in December

Chart description: The number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries declines in December

CSV version of chart 1

Claims virtually unchanged in December

To receive EI benefits, individuals must first submit a claim. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

Nationally, the number of initial and renewal claims totalled 226,700 in December, virtually unchanged from the previous month.

Provincially, there were fewer claims in Manitoba (-6.1%), Alberta (-3.2%), New Brunswick (-2.1%) and Quebec (-1.9%), while the number increased in Nova Scotia (+4.3%), Newfoundland and Labrador (+2.7%) and Ontario (+1.7%). There was little change in the other provinces.

Chart 2 
Number of claims virtually unchanged in December
Chart 2: Number of claims virtually unchanged in December

Chart description: Number of claims virtually unchanged in December

CSV version of chart 2

Fewer beneficiaries in all provinces

The number of people receiving regular benefits fell in all provinces in December.

The largest percentage decrease occurred in Prince Edward Island, where the number of beneficiaries declined 4.6% to 7,800 in December, following four months of little change.

There was also a notable decline in Newfoundland and Labrador, where the number of beneficiaries fell by 4.1% to 32,400, continuing a downward trend that began in the fall of 2011.

The number of people receiving regular benefits in Manitoba decreased by 3.3% to 12,900 in December, following a 1.5% decline the month before.

The number of beneficiaries in Saskatchewan fell by 2.5% to 9,700 in December, after little change in the previous three months.

In Nova Scotia, the number of beneficiaries declined 2.1% to 29,000, following a decrease of similar magnitude in the previous month.

Smaller declines also occurred in New Brunswick (-1.9%), Alberta (-1.7%), Quebec (-1.1%), Ontario (-0.8%) and British Columbia (-0.8%).

Note to readers

Employment Insurance regular benefits are available to eligible individuals who lose their jobs and who are available for and able to work, but can't find a job. The change in the number of regular beneficiaries reflects various situations, including people becoming beneficiaries, people going back to work, and people exhausting their regular benefits.

All data in this release are seasonally adjusted unless otherwise specified. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonal adjustment and identifying economic trends.

EI statistics are produced from administrative data sources provided by Service Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. These statistics may, from time to time, be affected by changes to the Employment Insurance Act or administrative procedures. Recent examples are the pilot project entitled "Working While on Claim," introduced on August 5, 2012, and the regulation on search for suitable employment, that came into effect on January 6, 2013.

The number of regular beneficiaries and the number of claims received for the current and previous month are subject to revision.

The number of beneficiaries is a measure of all people who received EI benefits from December 2 to 8. This period coincides with the reference week of the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

EI statistics indicate the number of people who received EI benefits, and should not be confused with LFS data, which provide information on the total number of unemployed people.

There is always a certain proportion of unemployed people who do not qualify for benefits. Some unemployed people have not contributed to the program because they have not worked in the past 12 months or their employment is not insured. Other unemployed people have contributed to the program but do not meet the eligibility criteria, such as workers who left their job voluntarily or those who did not accumulate enough hours of work to receive benefits.

New content and historical revision on the way

Over the next few months, data on people who receive regular EI benefits will be available for the first time by occupation and detailed age group.

New seasonally adjusted data by sex, age, census metropolitan area, census agglomeration and occupation will also be available.

Seasonally adjusted series will be revised back to January 1997 to reflect the most recent seasonal factors. Geography boundaries will be updated from the 2001 to the 2006 Standard Geographical Classification (SGC), which mainly affects boundaries of census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations.

In addition, the definition of regular beneficiaries will be expanded to include those receiving regular benefits while participating in employment benefit programs, such as training. Furthermore, self-employed people receiving special benefits will be included in the special benefits category.

All data are available on CANSIM.

Available in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table276-0001 to 276-0004, CANSIM table276-0006, CANSIM table276-0009 and CANSIM table276-0011.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number survey number2604.

Data tables are also now available online. From the Browse by key resource module of our website under Summary tables, choose Subject, then Labour.

Data on Employment Insurance for January will be released on March 21.

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; infostats@statcan.gc.ca).

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Vincent Ferrao (613-951-4750; vincent.ferrao@statcan.gc.ca), Labour Statistics Division.