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Employment Insurance, January 2015

Released: 2015-03-26

The number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits totalled 496,600 in January, virtually unchanged from the previous month. Compared with January 2014, the number of beneficiaries decreased by 14,200 or 2.8%.

In January, four provinces had more beneficiaries compared with a month earlier: Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. In contrast, there were fewer beneficiaries in British Columbia and New Brunswick. 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: Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries - Description and data table
Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries

Chart 1: Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries - Description and data table

Provincial and metropolitan area overview

Between December and January, the number of people receiving regular benefits in Newfoundland and Labrador rose by 2.7% to 30,800, following little change over the previous three months. There was a notable increase in the metropolitan area of St. John's (+7.2%). Outside of this census metropolitan area, the number of beneficiaries rose by 2.1%. See "Geographical definitions" in the note to readers.

In Alberta, 31,000 people received benefits in January, up 2.4% from the previous month and the third consecutive monthly increase. Edmonton posted a 3.6% gain, while there was little change in Calgary. In the province's census agglomerations (CAs), the number of beneficiaries rose by 3.2%. There were notable increases in Alberta among beneficiaries who last worked in occupations unique to primary industry (+6.5%), natural and applied sciences (+5.6%) and in trades, transport and equipment operators (+4.5%).

In Saskatchewan, the number of people receiving benefits rose by 1.6% to 10,900. Both Saskatoon (+2.8%) and Regina (+2.2%) posted increases, while there was little change in the number of beneficiaries in outlying areas.

In Nova Scotia, there were 26,300 people receiving regular EI benefits in January, up 1.5% from December. There were more beneficiaries in both Halifax (+2.4%) and in the province's CAs (+3.2%).

Compared with December, British Columbia reported fewer beneficiaries in January, down 2.2% to 48,200 people. This decline in the province continued the downward trend that began in October 2014. Abbottsford–Mission (-4.0%) and Vancouver (-2.8%) had fewer beneficiaries in January, while there were increases in Kelowna (+2.1%) and Victoria (+2.0%).

In January, the number of people receiving regular benefits in New Brunswick declined by 1.6% to 31,600, following increases the previous three months. The metropolitan areas of Moncton (-3.7%) and Saint John (-2.4%) posted the largest declines in beneficiaries.

While the remaining four provinces saw little change in the number of beneficiaries between December and January, this was not the case in some areas within Quebec and Ontario.

In Quebec, the number of beneficiaries fell in Trois-Rivières (-3.1%) and Sherbrooke (-2.1%), while there were more people receiving benefits in Gatineau (+2.2%). At the same time, the province's CAs posted a decline of 1.6% in the number of beneficiaries.

Of the 15 metropolitan areas in Ontario, 8 had more beneficiaries in January, with the largest percentage increases in Oshawa (+12.3%), Hamilton (+4.3%), London (+3.5%) and Guelph (+3.4%). At the same time, the number of beneficiaries declined by 3.4% in Windsor and by 1.8% in both Greater Sudbury and in St Catharines–Niagara.

Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation

In the 12 months to January, the number of beneficiaries in all occupation groups, based on EI recipients' last occupation, declined by 2.8%. There were fewer people receiving benefits in all major occupation groups, most notably in art, culture, recreation and sport occupations (-7.0%).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, January 2014 to January 2015 - Description and data table
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, January 2014 to January 2015

Chart 2: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, January 2014 to January 2015 - Description and data table

Employment Insurance beneficiaries in major demographic groups

Compared with December, the number of beneficiaries fell 3.2% in January among men aged 15 to 24, the fourth consecutive monthly decline. There was little change for women in the same age group.

For men aged 25 to 54, the number of beneficiaries rose 1.8% in January, while there was a slight decline of 1.4% among women in the same age group.

On a year-over-year basis, the fastest rate of decline in the number of beneficiaries continued to be among people aged 15 to 24, down 6.2% for women and 5.7% for men. Over the same period, the number of beneficiaries among women aged 25 to 54 fell by 4.9%, a faster rate of decline than the 2.5% decrease observed for men in the same age group.

Employment Insurance claims

Nationally, the number of EI claims in January increased 1.8% compared with December. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

Provincially, claims increased by 25.7% in Alberta, the largest increase in the province since February 2009. Claims also rose in Saskatchewan (+4.8%), Prince Edward Island (+2.6%) and British Columbia (+2.1%) in January.

At the same time, the number of claims fell in New Brunswick (-5.9%) and declined slightly in Quebec (-1.2%). There was little change in the other provinces.

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

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



  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 Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

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 January 11 to 17. 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.

Geographical definitions

A census metropolitan area (CMA) or a census agglomeration (CA) is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centred on a population centre. A CMA, also referred to as a 'metropolitan area' in this release, must have a total population of at least 100,000. A CA must have a population of at least 10,000. See Standard Geographical Classification 2011 – Definitions for more information.

Data on Employment Insurance for February will be released on April 23.

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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