Number of people in Canada receiving regular unemployment insurance benefits little changed in December from November at 514,200; number of beneficiaries has been relatively steady since May 2013: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA , February 20, 2014 (press release) – In December, 514,200 people received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits—little changed from November. The number of beneficiaries has been relatively stable since May 2013, following a long-term downward trend that began in the summer of 2009.

Saskatchewan and Alberta posted an increase in the number of people receiving regular EI benefits in December, while there were fewer beneficiaries in 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 who no longer receive regular benefits.

Chart 1 
Number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries relatively stable since May 2013
Line chart – Chart 1: Number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries relatively stable since May 2013, from December 2008 to December 2013

Chart description: Number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries relatively stable since May 2013

CSV version of chart 1

Provincial and metropolitan area overview

The number of people receiving regular EI benefits in Saskatchewan rose by 1.9% in December—the first increase in eight months. Both metropolitan areas in the province had more beneficiaries in December (+4.8% in Regina and +3.3% in Saskatoon).

In Alberta, there were slightly more people receiving benefits in December (+1.4%). The number of beneficiaries in the province has remained relatively stable since the summer of 2012. Edmonton saw the number of beneficiaries increase by 3.6% in December, while there was little change in Calgary.

In New Brunswick, the number of regular EI beneficiaries was down slightly (-1.4%) in December, bringing it back to the level observed in July. The number of beneficiaries in the province had been trending down from the fall of 2012 to the summer of 2013. In December, there were slightly fewer beneficiaries in Saint John, while there was little change in Moncton.

The number of beneficiaries was little changed in the other provinces, but this was not the case in some metropolitan areas within these provinces.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the number of beneficiaries in St. John's increased for the second month in a row, up 3.5% in December.

In Quebec, declines were recorded in Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières, while there was a small increase in Saguenay.

In December, seven metropolitan areas in Ontario had more regular EI beneficiaries, most notably Peterborough (+7.7%). At the same time, four metropolitan areas had fewer beneficiaries, with the largest decline in London (-2.5%).

In British Columbia, Abbotsford–Mission and Victoria experienced a slight decline in the number of beneficiaries, while Kelowna posted a small increase.

Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation

The number of beneficiaries fell in four major occupation groups from November to December, most notably in occupations unique to processing, manufacturing and utilities (-3.2%). At the same time, the number of beneficiaries increased 2.8% in trades, transport and equipment operation and rose slightly in health occupations (+1.2%), while there was little change in the other major occupation groups.

On a year-over-year basis, there were fewer people receiving benefits in all but two occupation groups, with the declines ranging from 1.7% in management to 10.7% in sales and service. However, the number of beneficiaries was little changed in trades, transport and equipment operation, as well as in natural and applied science occupations.

Chart 2 
Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, December 2012 to December 2013 
Bar clustered chart – Chart 2: Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, December 2012 to December 2013

Chart description: Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, December 2012 to December 2013

CSV version of chart 2

Employment Insurance beneficiaries in major demographic groups

For the third consecutive month, there was an increase in the number of men aged 55 and over receiving regular EI benefits, up 2.4% in December. At the same time, the number of beneficiaries was little changed among all other demographic groups.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of people receiving benefits continued to fall at a faster rate among women than men in all age groups.

Employment Insurance claims increase for the second month in a row

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

Nationally, the number of initial and renewal claims rose for the second consecutive month in December, up 3.3% to 233,300. Compared with December 2012, the number of claims increased by 2.0%, following four consecutive year-over-year monthly declines.

Chart 3 
Employment Insurance claims increase for the second consecutive month in December
Column clustered chart – Chart 3: Employment Insurance claims increase for the second consecutive month in December, from December 2008 to December 2013

Chart description: Employment Insurance claims increase for the second consecutive month in December

CSV version of chart 3

Provincially, from November to December, the number of claims increased by 8.9% in Ontario, 7.3% in British Columbia and 6.1% in Saskatchewan. In Alberta, claims rose slightly (+1.3%). In contrast, claims fell in Newfoundland and Labrador (-7.5%), Nova Scotia (-5.5%) and Prince Edward Island (-5.1%). The December declines in Newfoundland and Labrador as well as Nova Scotia offset increases observed in November. In December, there was little or no change in the number of claims in the other provinces.

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