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In January, the number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits increased by 12,400 (+2.3%) to 561,100. This increase returned the number of beneficiaries to roughly the same level as in June 2011.
The number of beneficiaries rose in eight provinces, with the largest percentage increase occurring in Quebec.
Number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries up in January
Number of Employment Insurance claims rise slightly in January
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.
Note to readers
The change in the number of regular Employment Insurance (EI) beneficiaries reflects various situations, including people becoming beneficiaries, people going back to work, and people exhausting their regular benefits.
All data in this release are seasonally adjusted unless otherwise specified.
EI statistics are produced from administrative data sources provided by Service Canada and 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 December and January 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 people who received EI benefits from January 8 to 14. This period coincides with the reference week of the Labour Force Survey (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 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.
Nationally, the number of initial and renewal claims rose by 3,700 (+1.6%) to 242,300 in January.
Provincially, the number of claims increased 4.4% in Quebec, 3.9% in Ontario and 2.8% in New Brunswick. Claims fell 7.8% in Alberta, 3.2% in British Columbia, 1.4% in Manitoba and 1.4% in Nova Scotia. There was little change in the remaining three provinces.
Number of Employment Insurance claims edges up in January
More beneficiaries in most provinces
The number of people receiving regular EI benefits in January rose in eight provinces, with the largest percentage increase occurring in Quebec (+5.3%).
There were also notable percentage increases in Manitoba (+1.7%) and Ontario (+1.5%). At the same time, the number of beneficiaries edged down in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Sub-provincial and demographic overview
EI data by sub-provincial region, sex and age are not seasonally adjusted and are therefore compared on a year-over-year basis.
Most large centres continue to post year-over-year declines
Of the 143 large centres, 122 posted declines in the number of beneficiaries between January 2011 and January 2012 (see map). Large centres are those with a population of 10,000 or more.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the number of beneficiaries decreased in all five large centres. In St. John's, the number of people receiving benefits fell 12.8% to 5,000, continuing a series of year-over-year declines that began nearly two years earlier.
In Prince Edward Island, both large centres had fewer beneficiaries in January. The biggest percentage decline was in Charlottetown, where the number of beneficiaries fell 15.6%.
In Nova Scotia, all five large centres had fewer beneficiaries in the 12 months to January. The largest percentage decline occurred in Halifax, where the number of people receiving benefits fell 14.6% to 6,000. This continued a downward trend that began in the spring of 2010.
In New Brunswick, two of the six large centres had fewer beneficiaries compared with 12 months earlier. The number of people receiving benefits fell 11.5% in Moncton and 7.8% in Saint John. At the same time, there were 7.8% more beneficiaries in Fredericton. There was little or no change in the three other large centres of the province.
In Quebec, the number of beneficiaries declined in 24 of the 33 large centres in the 12 months to January, with the largest percentage decreases in Rouyn-Noranda, Amos, Montréal and Shawinigan. In Montréal, the number of people receiving benefits fell 12.0% to 70,500, extending a series of declines that began nearly two years earlier. In Thetford Mines, the number of beneficiaries rose 13.1%.
Of the 41 large centres in Ontario, 35 had fewer beneficiaries in the 12 months to January. The largest percentage decreases occurred in Hamilton, Guelph, Chatham-Kent, Stratford and Timmins. In Toronto, the number of beneficiaries fell 20.3% to 64,900, continuing the trend of year-over-year monthly declines that started in the spring of 2010.
In Manitoba, the number of people receiving regular benefits was down in all four large centres in the 12 months to January. In Winnipeg, the number of beneficiaries fell 9.9% to 7,900, the 17th consecutive month of year-over-year declines.
In Saskatchewan, all eight large centres continued to post year-over-year declines in the number of beneficiaries, the largest occurring in Moose Jaw and Saskatoon. In Saskatoon, 2,200 people received benefits, down 19.5%, continuing the downward trend that began almost one year earlier. In Regina, the number of beneficiaries fell 10.9% to 1,600, continuing a series of declines that began in the summer of 2010.
In Alberta, all 12 large centres had fewer beneficiaries in January compared with 12 months earlier. The largest percentage decreases occurred in Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Cold Lake, Red Deer, Calgary and Edmonton. In Calgary, 9,700 people received benefits, down 34.1%, and in Edmonton, 10,600 people received benefits, down 31.3%. For the third consecutive month, Calgary and Edmonton posted the highest year-over-year declines among all census metropolitan areas.
In British Columbia, the number of beneficiaries fell in 24 of the 25 large centres, with the largest percentage declines in Fort St. John, Powell River and Squamish. In Vancouver, 27,300 people received benefits in January, down 22.2% from 12 months earlier. In Victoria, the number of beneficiaries was down 20.0% to 3,600.
In January, 466,800 men received regular benefits, down 9.8% from January 2011. The number of beneficiaries fell at roughly the same pace for men under 25 (-10.0%) and men aged 25 to 54 (-10.7%). Among men aged 55 and over, the number declined 6.9%.
A total of 233,400 women received regular benefits in January, down 13.4% from 12 months earlier. This was the first time in almost two years that the percentage decline was larger for women than for men.
Among women under 25, the number of beneficiaries fell 15.8%, while for those aged 25 to 54, it decreased 14.2%. For women aged 55 and over, the decline was 9.5%.
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 (EI) for February will be released on April 19.
A set of maps, Employment Insurance Statistics Maps, January 2012 (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, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 613-951-8116; email@example.com), Communications Division.
To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Vincent Ferrao (613-951-4750), Labour Statistics Division.
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