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Employment Insurance, March 2014

Released: 2014-05-22

In March, 509,800 people received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, little changed from February. The number of beneficiaries has been relatively stable since May 2013, following a long-term downward trend that began in the summer of 2009.

The number of people receiving benefits in March was down in Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, while it increased in Quebec. There was little change in the other provinces.

The change in the number of regular EI beneficiaries reflects various situations, including people becoming beneficiaries, people going back to work, and people no longer receiving regular benefits.

Chart 1  Chart 1: The number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries is little changed since May 2013 - Description and data table
The number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries is little changed since May 2013

Chart 1: The number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries is little changed since May 2013 - Description and data table

Provincial and metropolitan area overview

In Prince Edward Island, the number of people receiving regular EI benefits fell for the fourth consecutive month, down 1.8% in March.

The number of beneficiaries in British Columbia decreased by 1.7%, the third consecutive monthly decline. All four metropolitan areas in the province posted declines in March, notably Kelowna and Abbotsford–Mission.

New Brunswick (-1.2%) had slightly fewer beneficiaries in March. There was a notable decrease in Saint John (-4.5%), which marked the fourth consecutive monthly decline for this metropolitan area.

Saskatchewan (-1.2%) also posted a slight decrease in March, but there was little or no change in the metropolitan areas of Saskatoon and Regina.

The number of beneficiaries was up 1.9% in Quebec. Except for Gatineau, where there was little change, all metropolitan areas in the province posted increases, most notably Sherbrooke (+10.3%).

In Ontario, the number of beneficiaries was little changed. However, there were increases in several metropolitan areas, especially Oshawa (+4.3%), Guelph (+3.3%), Peterborough (+2.7%) and Greater Sudbury (+2.3%). In Toronto, the number of beneficiaries totalled 59,300—a level that has been relatively stable since the autumn of 2013.

There was also little change in the number of people receiving benefits in Nova Scotia in March. Halifax, however, posted an increase of 2.0%, continuing an upward trend that began in the autumn of 2013.

Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation

The number of beneficiaries increased in 2 of the 10 major occupation groups between February and March, namely social science, education, government service and religion (+3.1%), as well as natural and applied sciences (+1.5%). There was little change in the other occupation groups.

Between March 2013 and March 2014, fewer people received benefits in seven of the major occupational groups, with declines ranging from 1.0% in management occupations to 8.7% in occupations unique to processing, manufacturing and utilities. Over the same period, the number of beneficiaries increased by 3.1% in social science, education, government service and religion, and by 2.3% in natural and applied sciences.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, March 2013 to March 2014  - Description and data table
Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, March 2013 to March 2014 

Chart 2: Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, March 2013 to March 2014  - Description and data table

Employment Insurance beneficiaries in major demographic groups

In March, the number of men aged 15 to 24 who received benefits increased by 1.7%, following declines over the previous four months. At the same time, the number of women aged 15 to 24 receiving benefits fell slightly (-1.2%). There was little change for men and women 25 and over.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of women aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 54 who receive benefits continued to fall at a faster rate than men in the same age groups. Over the period, the number of beneficiaries among men aged 55 and over increased by 2.1%, while it was little changed for women in the same age group.

More Employment Insurance claims in March

The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

In March, the number of initial and renewal claims rose by 4.5%, the fourth increase in five months.

Chart 3  Chart 3: More Employment Insurance claims in March - Description and data table
More Employment Insurance claims in March

Chart 3: More Employment Insurance claims in March - Description and data table

The number of claims rose in five provinces in March, with the largest increases in Ontario (+12.9%) and Alberta (+12.0%).

In March, four provinces had fewer claims, most notably Manitoba (-9.3%), Nova Scotia (-4.1%) and New Brunswick (-2.9%).




  Note to readers

Regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits are available to eligible individuals who lose their jobs and who are available for and able to work, but cannot find a job. 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.

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.

All data in this release are seasonally adjusted. 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 Employment and Social Development Canada. These statistics may, from time to time, be affected by changes to the Employment Insurance Act or administrative procedures.

The number of regular EI 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 March 9 to 15. This period coincides with the reference week of the Labour Force Survey (LFS). However, initial and renewal claims data are for the entire month.

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.

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 April will be released on June 19.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; 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.

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