Number of people in Canada receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits virtually unchanged in February from January at 506,500, down 4.9% from a year ago: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA , April 17, 2014 (press release) – Following a decline in January, the number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits was little changed in February at 506,500. Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of beneficiaries was down 4.9%.

Provincially, Quebec and Saskatchewan had more beneficiaries in February, while Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador posted slight declines. There was little or no 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 
Little change in the number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries in February
Line chart – Chart 1: Little change in the number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries in February, from February 2009 to February 2014

Chart description: Little change in the number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries in February

CSV version of chart 1

Provincial and metropolitan area overview

In Quebec, the number of people receiving regular benefits in February rose by 2.2%, partly offsetting a decline the previous month. Most metropolitan areas in the province posted increases, notably Gatineau (+6.0%), Sherbrooke (+4.4%), and Trois-Rivières (+4.2%). In Montréal, the number of beneficiaries increased by 2.7% to 52,000, following declines over the previous four months.

The number of people receiving benefits in Saskatchewan rose by 1.9% in February, the second increase in three months. In Saskatoon, the number of beneficiaries increased for the fifth consecutive month, up 3.9% in February, while in Regina it was up slightly (+1.4%), following three consecutive increases.

There were slightly fewer beneficiaries in Nova Scotia (-1.4%) and Prince Edward Island (-1.2%) in February, the third consecutive monthly decline in each province. In Halifax, the number was little changed following increases in the previous four months.

In February, the number of beneficiaries in Newfoundland and Labrador edged down 1.1%, with the number falling slightly by 1.3% in St. John's.

The number of people receiving regular EI benefits was little changed in the other provinces, but this was not the case in some metropolitan areas within these provinces.

In Ontario, six metropolitan areas had more regular EI beneficiaries in February, with Windsor (+8.3%) and Thunder Bay (+5.4%) recording the largest increases. At the same time, there were fewer beneficiaries in St. Catharines–Niagara (-1.9%) and there was a slight decline in Hamilton (-1.1%). In Toronto, the number of beneficiaries totalled 59,300—little changed for the fourth consecutive month.

In Alberta, the number of beneficiaries fell by 1.8% in Edmonton, while there was a slight increase of 1.4% in Calgary.

In British Columbia, there was little or no change in the number of beneficiaries in the metropolitan areas, except Victoria, where the number fell slightly by 1.4% in February—the third consecutive monthly decline.

Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation

There was little change in beneficiaries among all major occupation groups in February, except for occupations unique to processing, manufacturing and utilities, which were up 4.7%. The increase for this group partly offset declines over the previous three months.

On a year-over-year basis, there were fewer people receiving benefits in 8 of the 10 major occupational groups. The declines ranged from 1.0% in trades, transport and equipment operators to 11.0% in occupations unique to processing, manufacturing and utilities. In natural and applied sciences, the number of beneficiaries increased slightly by 1.3% while there was little change among beneficiaries in management occupations.

Chart 2 
Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, February 2013 to February 2014 
Bar clustered chart – Chart 2: Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, February 2013 to February 2014

Chart description: Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, February 2013 to February 2014

CSV version of chart 2

Employment Insurance beneficiaries in major demographic groups

In February, there were more men aged 25 to 54 (+1.8%) receiving benefits, while there was little or no change for men aged 15 to 24 and those 55 and over. At the same time, the number of women receiving benefits held steady in all major age groups.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of women aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 54 receiving benefits continued to fall at a faster rate than men in the same age groups. Over the same period, the number of male beneficiaries aged 55 and over was little changed, while it declined by 2.4% for women in the same age group.

Fewer Employment Insurance claims in February

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

Nationally, the number of initial and renewal claims fell by 1.9% to 231,000 in February, following increases over the previous three months.

Chart 3 
Fewer Employment Insurance claims in February
Column clustered chart – Chart 3: Fewer Employment Insurance claims in February, from February 2009 to February 2014

Chart description: Fewer Employment Insurance claims in February

CSV version of chart 3

In February, claims decreased in most provinces, including Prince Edward Island (-5.7%), New Brunswick (-4.8%), Ontario (-4.7%), Alberta (-3.8%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-2.9%). There were also small declines in Nova Scotia (-1.6%) and Saskatchewan (-1.4%).

At the same time, however, Manitoba and British Columbia saw the number of claims increase by 6.8% and 2.1% respectively, while there was no change in Quebec.

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