Employment Insurance

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December 2010 (Previous release)

In December, 659,700 people received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, down 9,400 (-1.4%) from November and the third consecutive monthly decrease. The number of beneficiaries declined in every province and territory, except the Northwest Territories.

The number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries down slightly from September to December

Employment Insurance claims little changed

To receive EI benefits, individuals must first submit a claim. In December, 249,000 initial and renewal claims were received, a modest increase of 970 (+0.4%) from the previous month.

In Quebec, the number of claims increased by 3,500 (+4.9%) in December, offsetting much of the decline in November. In Ontario, the number of claims rose by 970 (+1.2%), the third consecutive monthly increase.

In all other provinces, fewer people filed a claim in December or no change was noted. Decreases in claims were most pronounced in Saskatchewan (-8.1%) and New Brunswick (-5.6%).

Note to readers

All data in this release are seasonally adjusted unless otherwise specified.

Each month, Statistics Canada provides analysis of the current labour market situation, using Employment Insurance (EI) statistics and other sources. Earlier this month, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) provided a picture of overall labour market conditions, including unemployment, total employment and those affected by changes in the labour market.

In this release, Statistics Canada provides additional sub-provincial detail through the EI statistics. Details by industry will follow with data from the Survey of Employment, Payrolls and Hours.

EI statistics are produced from an administrative data source from Human Resources and Skills 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 beneficiaries and the number of claims received for November and December 2010 are preliminary. In this release, large centres correspond to those with a population of 10,000 or more.

The number of beneficiaries is a measure of all persons who received EI benefits from December 5 to 11. This period coincides with the reference week of the LFS.

EI statistics indicate the number of people who received EI benefits, and should not be confused with data coming from the LFS, which provides information on the total number of unemployed people.

There are 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.

The change in the number of regular EI beneficiaries reflects various situations, including people becoming beneficiaries, people going back to work, and people exhausting their regular benefits.

There has been little overall change in the number of claims since July 2010. Claims provide an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

Number of Employment Insurance claims relatively stable since July

Beneficiaries down in all provinces

The number of regular beneficiaries declined in every province in December. This was the third consecutive monthly decrease for 9 of the 10 provinces, Nova Scotia being the exception.

The most notable declines in December were in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Nova Scotia. In Ontario, the number of beneficiaries decreased by 3,600 (-1.7%) to 206,800. In Quebec, it fell by 2,100 (-1.1%) to 186,000, while in British Columbia, it declined by 1,500 (-1.8%) to 78,900.

In Nova Scotia, the number of people receiving benefits decreased by 1,100 (-3.2%) to 33,200 in December, more than offsetting the increase in November.

Sub-provincial and demographic overview

Employment Insurance data by sub-provincial region, sex and age are not seasonally adjusted and are therefore compared on a year-over-year basis.

Continued year-over-year declines in most large centres

Between December 2009 and December 2010, the number of regular beneficiaries fell by 87,100 (-11.8%) at the national level, with declines in 117 of the 143 large centres (see map). The number of large centres reporting year-over-year declines has been relatively stable over the past nine months. Large centres are those with a population of 10,000 or more.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the number of beneficiaries declined in all five large centres. The fastest rate of decline occurred in Labrador City, which registered fewer beneficiaries in all 12 months of 2010 on a year-over-year basis. In St. John's, the number of beneficiaries fell by 730 to 4,600, the largest of nine consecutive months of year-over-year declines.

In Quebec, the number of regular beneficiaries fell in 27 of the 33 large centres between December 2009 and December 2010. The fastest declines occurred in Lachute, Granby, Saint-Georges, Saguenay, La Tuque, and Sorel-Tracy. Montréal recorded 6,100 fewer beneficiaries, the 10th consecutive month of year-over-year declines. The number of beneficiaries was little changed in the census metropolitan area of Québec.

In Ontario, most large centres posted declines, most notably Greater Sudbury, Guelph, Belleville, Tillsonburg, and Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo. In Toronto, the number fell by 16,600 to 71,300, the 10th consecutive month of year-over-year declines.

In Alberta, all 12 large centres had fewer beneficiaries in December compared with December 2009. The pace of decline was fastest in Brooks, Camrose, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat and Calgary. The number of beneficiaries fell year-over-year for the ninth consecutive month in both Calgary and Edmonton. In Calgary, the number fell by 6,700 to 13,000, while in Edmonton, it declined by 3,500 to 13,900.

In British Columbia, most large centres had fewer beneficiaries in December than a year earlier. The rate of decline was most pronounced in Fort St. John, Port Alberni, Campbell River and Prince George. In Vancouver, 32,400 people received regular benefits in December, down 3,700 from a year earlier. The number of beneficiaries fell by 600 to 3,900 in Victoria.

Demographic groups

Faster decline in the number of beneficiaries among men than women

Between December 2009 and December 2010, the number of male EI regular beneficiaries fell by 14.9% to 398,800, the 10th consecutive month of year-over-year declines. The pace of decline was fastest among men under 25 years of age (-19.1%) and those aged 25 to 54 (-17.5%). The decline among men aged 55 and over was much slower (-2.7%).

Over this year-long period, the number of female beneficiaries decreased by 6.5% to 250,100, the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year declines. The most prominent decline was among women under 25 years of age (-15.6%), followed by an 8.5% decline for those aged 25 to 54. In contrast, there was a 5.4% increase among women aged 55 and over.

Available on CANSIM: tables 276-0001 to 276-0006, 276-0009, 276-0011, 276-0015 and 276-0016.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 2604.

Data tables are also now available online. From the Key resource module of our website under Summary tables, choose Subject then Labour.

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

A set of maps, Employment Insurance Statistics Maps, December 2010 (73-002-X, free), is now available online. The maps show percent changes in the number of people receiving regular EI benefits for all census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations in Canada. From the Key resource module of our website, under Publications, choose All subjects, then Labour.

For more information, or to order data, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-866-873-8788; 613-951-4090; labour@statcan.gc.ca). To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Dominique Pérusse (613-951-4064), Labour Statistics Division.