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Employment Insurance, December 2015

Released: 2016-02-18

The number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits totalled 539,800 in December, little changed (-0.5%) from the previous month.

There were more EI beneficiaries in Alberta (+2.2%) and Saskatchewan (+1.6%) in December, extending the upward trend for these provinces that began in September 2014. In addition, there were more beneficiaries in Newfoundland and Labrador (+1.3%).

Conversely, there were fewer people receiving benefits in Nova Scotia (-1.7%), Quebec (-1.7%) and Ontario (-1.1%). There was little change in the remaining provinces.

On a year-over-year basis, the total number of EI beneficiaries was up 36,800 or 7.3%, with Alberta accounting for most of the increase.

Despite the year-over-year increase, the number of beneficiaries in Canada has levelled out in recent months.

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
Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries

Provincial and sub-provincial overview

In Alberta, 62,500 people received EI benefits in December, up 2.2% from the previous month and double the 31,200 beneficiaries reported 12 months earlier. Compared with November, there were more people receiving benefits in Edmonton (+3.2%) and Calgary (+2.7%), as well as in a number of census agglomerations.

Alberta had more beneficiaries in nearly all major occupation groups in December, with the largest increase reported for people who last worked in management occupations (+6.8%). On a year-over-year basis, the number of beneficiaries whose last job was in natural and applied sciences nearly tripled, as it did for those who worked in processing, manufacturing and utilities. Additionally, the number of beneficiaries more than doubled for people last employed in occupations unique to primary industry.

The number of beneficiaries in Saskatchewan totalled 15,200 in December, up 1.6% from November. Saskatoon recorded a 5.6% increase, and most census agglomerations were also up. Saskatchewan reported a 37.5% year-over-year gain, largely the result of an increase in beneficiaries among people who were last employed in trades, transportation, and as equipment operators.

In December, there was an increase in the number of EI beneficiaries in Newfoundland and Labrador (+1.3%), continuing a recent upward trend that began in the summer of 2015. St. John's (+2.3%) had more beneficiaries in December, and there were smaller increases in the rest of the province.

In Nova Scotia, the number of beneficiaries declined 1.7%. While there was no change in Halifax, there were fewer beneficiaries in areas outside of the metropolitan area.

The number of beneficiaries decreased 1.7% in Quebec, with declines in the Québec (-2.5%), Trois-Rivières (-2.1%) and Montréal (-1.4%) metropolitan areas. While there was little change in the three other metropolitan areas, declines were recorded in the rest of the province.

Ontario posted a 1.1% decline in the number of beneficiaries in December. There were fewer beneficiaries in 10 of the 15 metropolitan areas, with decreases ranging from 1.0% in Hamilton to 4.2% in Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo. The number of beneficiaries fell for the fifth consecutive month in Toronto, down 1.4% to 52,900 in December. Greater Sudbury (+5.6%) and Thunder Bay (+2.2%) were the only metropolitan areas with more beneficiaries in December.

While the number of EI beneficiaries was little changed in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Manitoba and British Columbia, this was not the case for some areas within these provinces.

In Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown recorded an increase of 3.5%, while there was a 3.1% decline in Summerside. In New Brunswick, there were more beneficiaries in Saint John (+2.5%) and in the provincial census agglomerations, while Moncton recorded a decline of 1.6%. In Manitoba, Winnipeg (+1.8%) had more people receiving regular EI benefits. At the same time, British Columbia recorded fewer beneficiaries in three of its four metropolitan areas, most notably in Abbotsford–Mission (-2.6%).

Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation

Looking at the occupation of the last job of EI beneficiaries, 8 of the 10 major occupation groups posted increases on a year-over-year basis, most notably natural and applied sciences (+14.5%), trades, transport and equipment operators (+11.7%), and social science, education, government service and religion (+10.7%).

On the other hand, the number of beneficiaries was down 1.7% in health occupations, while there was virtually no change in processing, manufacturing and utilities.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, December 2014 to December 2015
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, December 2014 to December 2015

Employment Insurance beneficiaries in major demographic groups

Women aged 25 to 54 (-1.0%) saw a slight decline in the number of EI beneficiaries from November to December. There was little change for the other major demographic groups. However, compared with December 2014, all major demographic groups had more beneficiaries, especially men aged 25 to 54 (+11.5%) and men aged 15 to 24 (+10.6%).

Employment Insurance claims

Employment Insurance claims totalled 249,200 in December, up 3.4% from November. EI claims rose in most provinces in December, with increases ranging from 1.4% in Saskatchewan to 6.5% in Ontario. Quebec was the only province with little change.

Compared with 12 months earlier, EI claims were up 7.8%. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Employment Insurance claims
Employment Insurance claims





  Availability of data by occupation

Beginning with the release of the January Employment Insurance (EI) data on March 24, information on EI beneficiaries by occupation will not be available until such time as the completion of the reclassification of the administrative files from the 2006 National Occupational Classification for Statistics to the 2011 National Occupational Classification.

The Daily table "Beneficiaries receiving regular income benefits by occupation, Canada — Seasonally adjusted" will not be available until this reclassification is completed. In addition, CANSIM tables 276-0040 and 276-0041 will be terminated and replaced by new CANSIM tables once the reclassification is completed.

Note to readers

Regular 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 December 6 to 12. 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.

Next release

Data on Employment Insurance for January will be released on March 24.

Products

More information about the concepts and use of Employment Insurance statistics is available online in the Guide to Employment Insurance Statistics (Catalogue number73-506-G), from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca).

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Gordon Song (613-793-2392; gordon.song@canada.ca), Labour Statistics Division.

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