Number of Canadians receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits decreased by 68,000 in February to 565,000; decreases in nine provinces led by Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia: Statistics Canada

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OTTAWA , April 21, 2022 (press release) –

Approximately 565,000 Canadians received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in February, down by 68,000 (-10.8%) from a month earlier.

February EI statistics reflect labour market conditions during the week of February 13 to 19, 2022.

After a tightening of public health measures in late 2021 and early 2022, many measures had been eased by the February reference week. Several provinces had lifted, or were in the process of lifting proof-of-vaccination requirements and capacity limits in settings such as restaurants, retailers, theatres and gyms.

Fewer Canadians collect regular EI benefits in February
The number of Canadians receiving regular EI benefits declined for the ninth consecutive month, dropping by 68,000 (-10.8%) in February to 565,000.

According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the unemployment rate dropped a full percentage point in February to 5.5%, as it approached an all-time low.

Chart 1: Fewer regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries in February

Chart 1: Fewer regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries in February

The number of regular EI beneficiaries decreases in nine provinces
The number of regular EI beneficiaries fell in nine provinces in February, led by Quebec (-16.6%; -27,000), Ontario (-13.8%; -26,000) and British Columbia (-7.6%; -4,000). According to February LFS results, both Ontario (+194,000) and Quebec (+82,000) saw strong employment growth in the month.

Prince Edward Island was the only province to see little change in regular EI beneficiaries, compared with January.

On a regional basis, the Montréal (-18.3%; -13,000) and Toronto (-11.1%; -8,000) census metropolitan areas (CMAs) accounted for more than one-quarter (29.8%) of the monthly decrease in regular EI recipients. February LFS results indicated that employment increased by 116,000 in the Toronto CMA and by 37,000 in the Montréal CMA.

The drop in regular EI beneficiaries spread across all major demographic groups
In February, the number of core-aged (25 to 54 years) people receiving regular EI benefits fell by 42,000 (-11.2%). February LFS results showed that employment increased among both core-aged women (+85,000; +1.4%) and core-aged men (+ 70,000; +1.1%) in February.

Among youth aged 15 to 24 years, the number of beneficiaries receiving regular EI benefits fell by 7,000 (-13.7%) among young men and by 6,000 (-16.7%) among young women. According to the February LFS, employment rose by 67,000 (+5.4%) for young men and by 63,000 (+5.1%) for young women.

The number of regular EI beneficiaries aged 55 years and older also fell in February. Compared with January, there were 8,000 (-7.3%) fewer men aged 55 years and older who received regular EI benefits, and 6,000 (-8.8%) fewer women in the same age group who received regular EI benefits.

Beneficiaries from accommodation and food services fall as employment rebounds
The number of beneficiaries who most recently worked in accommodation and food services fell by 21,000 (-27.5%) between January and February 2022 (not seasonally adjusted). According to the February LFS, employment in the industry rebounded by 114,000 (+12.6%), after declining by a similar amount in January 2022.

Despite the decline, regular EI beneficiaries who recently worked in accommodation and food services accounted for 7.6% of all beneficiaries in February 2022, higher than the February average of 5.8% between 2018 and 2020 (not seasonally adjusted).

Chart 2: Fewer Employment Insurance beneficiaries in February who last worked in accommodation and food services

Chart 2: Fewer Employment Insurance beneficiaries in February who last worked in accommodation and food services

Beneficiaries in construction drop following sustained employment growth
According to the LFS, construction employment increased for the third consecutive month in February, adding 95,000 workers over the three-month span. The recent employment growth follows an increase in investment in building construction since fall 2021. In line with LFS results, the number of beneficiaries who most recently worked in construction fell by 9,000 (-5.4%) between January and February 2022 (not seasonally adjusted).

The construction industry regularly accounts for a large portion of all regular EI beneficiaries, particularly in the winter months. In February, almost one-quarter (23.0%) of regular EI recipients last worked in construction, down from the monthly average of 27.1% between 2018 and 2020 (not seasonally adjusted).

Half of longer-term regular EI recipients last worked in sales and service occupations or trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations
While unemployment fell in February, the number of people unemployed for 27 weeks or more (212,000) remained higher than in February 2020 (180,000), prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those who received regular EI benefits in February 2022, and who received regular EI benefits in at least 7 of the previous 12 months, half (49.9%) last worked in either sales and service occupations (24.9%) or trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations (25.1%).

Among longer-term regular EI beneficiaries who last worked in sales and service occupations, just over one in five (21.3%) worked while receiving part of their EI benefits in February, a drop of 21.8 percentage points compared with January (not seasonally adjusted).

Monthly claims drop to lowest level since July 2021
During February, there were 256,000 EI claims, a decline of 94,000 (-26.8%) compared with January 2022. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries. Claims data include initial and renewal claims received for any type of EI benefit, including special benefits.

The number of claims dropped in nine provinces, led by Quebec (-37.7%; -40,000), Ontario (-33.9%; -44,000), New Brunswick (-19.1%; -3,000) and British Columbia (-11.9%; -4,000). Newfoundland and Labrador was the only province where claims were little changed from January to February 2022.

Next release
Information on the profile of regular EI recipients for the week of March 13 to 19 will be released on May 19.

Note to readers
Employment Insurance in the context of broader COVID-19 benefit programs
No methodological changes have been made to the Employment Insurance Statistics (EIS) program over the COVID-19 pandemic period. EIS reflect the Employment Insurance (EI) program for the Labour Force Survey (LFS) reference week in each month.

Data for the October 2020 reference period and onward comprise individuals who obtained EI benefits and exclude beneficiaries of the Canada recovery benefits (Canada Recovery Benefit, Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, and Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit).

Concepts and methodology
The analysis focuses on people who received regular EI benefits related to job loss.

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.

EI statistics indicate the number of people who received EI benefits and should not be confused with LFS data, which provide estimates of 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 was not insured. Other unemployed people have contributed to the program, but do not meet the eligibility criteria, such as workers who left their jobs voluntarily or those who did not accumulate enough hours of work to receive benefits.

All data in this release are seasonally adjusted, unless otherwise specified. Values for all series from March 2020 to February 2022 have been treated as outliers in determining a seasonal pattern for seasonal adjustment. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

The number of regular EI beneficiaries for the current month and the previous month is subject to revision.

The number of beneficiaries is a measure of all people who received regular EI benefits from February 13 to 19, 2022. This period coincides with the reference week of the LFS.

EI beneficiaries by industry
The industry of EI beneficiaries is determined by integrating EI data with record of employment administrative data. For beneficiaries with more than one record of employment in the 52 weeks prior to the reference week, the records with the greatest number of hours are used. If no industry information can be found, industry information is deemed "Not classified" for the beneficiary.

A census metropolitan area (CMA) or census agglomeration (CA) is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centred on a population centre. A CMA 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 2016 – Definitions for more information.

Data availability
In the data tables 14-10-0004, 14-10-0005, 14-10-0007 and 14-10-0008, for the March to September 2020 reference periods, data have been suppressed because a source data file contains records for Canada Emergency Response Benefit claimants and beneficiaries who could not be identified and excluded through processing.

Next release
Data on EI for March will be released on May 19.

Products
More information about the concepts and use of Employment Insurance statistics is available in the Guide to Employment Insurance Statistics (Catalogue number73-506-G).

Contact information
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@statcan.gc.ca).

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