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Employment Insurance, March 2015

Released: 2015-05-21

In March, 517,900 people received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, up 5,900 or 1.1% from February. Compared with March 2014, the number of EI beneficiaries rose slightly (+2,600), the first year-over-year increase since February 2010.

For the third consecutive month, Alberta led all provinces in terms of growth in the number of beneficiaries, with an 8.9% increase in March. Notable increases also occurred in Saskatchewan (+3.8%), Nova Scotia (+2.8%), Newfoundland and Labrador (+2.2%) and Manitoba (+2.0%).

Slight increases were recorded in British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, while there were fewer beneficiaries in Quebec, and little change in New Brunswick and Ontario.

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

In Alberta, the number of people receiving benefits rose 8.9% in March to 38,800. This was the fifth consecutive monthly increase and the second largest for the province since June 2009. The most notable increases occurred among beneficiaries whose last occupation was in processing, manufacturing and utilities (+21.6%), natural and applied sciences (+19.7%) or primary industry (+18.9%).

In March, the number of beneficiaries rose for the fifth consecutive month in both Calgary (+7.8%) and Edmonton (+5.5%). In the rest of Alberta, the number of beneficiaries was up 13.3%.

In Saskatchewan, the number of people receiving EI benefits increased for the fourth consecutive month, up 3.8% to 12,300 in March. The largest increase was among beneficiaries whose last occupation was in primary industry (+9.9%). Increases were widespread throughout the province, except Regina, where there was virtually no change.

In Nova Scotia, 28,400 people received regular EI benefits in March, up 2.8% from February and the fourth consecutive monthly increase. Both census agglomerations (CAs) as well as areas outside the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and the CAs showed increases (+3.9% and +2.3% respectively). In Halifax, the number of EI recipients rose 2.6%.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, more people received benefits in March compared with February, up 2.2% to 32,900—continuing an upward trend that began last November. In the metropolitan area of St. John's, the number of people receiving benefits increased 5.6% in March.

In Manitoba, the number of beneficiaries rose 2.0% in March to 13,900. There were more people receiving benefits in Winnipeg (+2.9%) and in the CAs (+2.2%), while there was little change elsewhere in the province.

The number of beneficiaries edged up 1.7% in British Columbia, 1.5% in Prince Edward Island, and 1.0% in Ontario. Quebec, on the other hand, posted a small decline (-1.5%), while New Brunswick showed little change in March.

In British Columbia, the largest change in the number of beneficiaries occurred in the areas outside of the province's CMAs and CAs (+4.1%).

Among the 15 metropolitan areas in Ontario, Windsor recorded the largest increase in the number of beneficiaries (+86.4% or +3,600). The increase in Windsor was concentrated among EI beneficiaries whose most recent occupation was in processing, manufacturing and utilities.

In Quebec, two of the six metropolitan areas recorded declines—Trois-Rivières (-6.3%) and Sherbrooke (-4.0%)—while there were slight decreases in the CAs and in the areas outside of the CMAs and CAs.

While the number of beneficiaries was little changed in the province of New Brunswick as a whole, it increased 3.1% in the metropolitan area of Saint John.

Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation

The number of EI beneficiaries increased slightly in March from 12 months earlier, although this was the first year-over-year increase in four years.

Looking at EI recipients according to their last occupation, there were increases in processing, manufacturing and utilities (+8.6%), and in trades, transport and equipment operators (+2.9%).

At the same time, there were fewer beneficiaries in a number of other occupations, mainly among those whose last job was in art, culture, recreation and sport (-7.8%) or in health (-5.7%).

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

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

Employment Insurance beneficiaries in major demographic groups

From February to March, there was a slight increase in the number of EI beneficiaries among both men and women aged 15 to 24, as well as among women aged 55 and older. There was little change in the other demographic groups.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of beneficiaries increased both for women aged 55 and older (+4.8%) and for their male counterparts (+3.6%). In contrast, there were fewer beneficiaries among women aged 25 to 54 and 15 to 24 (-2.7% and -1.7% respectively).

Employment Insurance claims

Following two consecutive monthly increases, the number of EI claims edged down 1.5% in March. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

Provincially, claims declined in Manitoba (-5.0%), Ontario (-4.3%) and Quebec (-1.5%), while they increased in Saskatchewan (+3.4%) and British Columbia (+2.2%). There was no or little change in the other provinces.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Employment Insurance claims - Description and data table
Employment Insurance claims

Chart 3: Employment Insurance claims - 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 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 March 15 to 21. 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 April will be released on June 18.

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 Lahouaria Yssaad (613-951-0627; lahouaria.yssaad@statcan.gc.ca), Labour Statistics Division.

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