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Employment Insurance, May 2015

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Released: 2015-07-23

There were 527,100 people receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in May, edging up 0.9% or 4,800 from April.

Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of beneficiaries increased by 15,400 (+3.0%). However, excluding Alberta, the number of beneficiaries in Canada edged down 0.7% (-3,200) on a year-over-year basis.

In Alberta, the number of beneficiaries rose for the seventh consecutive month, up 10.4% in May. Smaller increases were recorded in Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. On the other hand, there were slightly fewer beneficiaries in Ontario and Manitoba.

The change in the number of regular EI beneficiaries reflects various situations, including people becoming beneficiaries, people going back to work and people no longer receiving regular benefits.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries
Number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries

Provincial and metropolitan area overview

For the seventh month in a row, there were more EI beneficiaries in Alberta, up 10.4% to 48,800 in May. Over the past 12 months, the number of beneficiaries in the province increased by 18,600 (+61.3%). The largest increases in May came from Albertans whose last job was in natural and applied sciences and related occupations (+15.6%), processing, manufacturing and utilities (+14.3%) or primary industry (+13.5%).

Both Edmonton (+13.3%) and Calgary (+9.6%) reported more beneficiaries in May, marking a seventh consecutive monthly increase. In the rest of Alberta, the number was up 8.5% compared with April.

Prince Edward Island saw the number of beneficiaries rise by 3.8% in May, mostly offsetting the decline in April. Most of the increase in May came from the areas outside Charlottetown and Summerside.

In Saskatchewan, there were 12,800 beneficiaries in May, up 1.9% from the previous month. Both Regina (+3.4%) and Saskatoon (+1.6%) posted increases. In the rest of the province, the number of beneficiaries was up 1.7%.

In Nova Scotia, 28,900 people received EI benefits in May, up 1.6% from April. Halifax recorded a small decline (-1.6%), while the rest of the province posted a 2.3% increase.

The number of people receiving benefits in Ontario declined 1.5% to 144,500 in May. Among the 15 metropolitan areas in the province, Oshawa recorded the largest decrease (-23.1%) in the number of beneficiaries, offsetting the 21.2% increase the previous month. The decline in Oshawa was driven by fewer beneficiaries among workers whose most recent occupation was in processing, manufacturing and utilities.

In Manitoba, there were slightly fewer beneficiaries (-1.2%) in May, with Winnipeg recording a 2.6% decline.

While there was little change in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, this was not the case in some areas within these provinces.

In British Columbia, the number of beneficiaries increased 3.1% in Kelowna and edged up 1.5% in Victoria. However, there was no change in either Vancouver or Abbotsford–Mission.

In New Brunswick, there were more beneficiaries in Moncton (+3.2%) and fewer in Saint John (-1.8%).

Of the six metropolitan areas in Quebec, two posted increases in May—Trois-Rivières (+4.9%) and Saguenay (+1.7%). There were also more beneficiaries in the province's census agglomerations.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the number of beneficiaries fell 1.8% in the census agglomerations, while there was little change in St. John's and in the rest of the province.

Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation

Compared with May 2014, there were more EI recipients among workers whose last job was in primary industry (+10.6%), natural and applied sciences (+7.2%) or processing, manufacturing and utilities (+7.1%). There were also increases among people who had last worked in trades and transport or as equipment operators (+5.5%) and among those who had held a management occupation (+3.6%).

On the other hand, the largest declines in the number of beneficiaries were mainly found in occupations for people whose last job was in art, culture, recreation and sport (-5.2%), sales and service (-3.1%) or health occupations (-3.0%).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, May 2014 to May 2015
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, percentage change, May 2014 to May 2015

Employment Insurance beneficiaries in major demographic groups

The number of men aged 15 to 24 receiving EI benefits rose for the fourth consecutive month, up 3.0% in May. In the remaining demographic groups, there was no notable change compared with April.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of beneficiaries increased for men in all age groups (+5.4%) and for women aged 55 and older (+4.6%). In contrast, there was a 2.6% decline among women aged 25 to 54 and little change among women aged 15 to 24.

Employment Insurance claims

Following two months of declines, the number of Employment Insurance claims increased by 3.7% to 250,300 in May. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.

Except for Manitoba and Saskatchewan, all provinces recorded increases in claims in May, ranging from 1.1% in Alberta to 5.4% in Prince Edward Island. In Alberta, claims have been on an upward trend since September 2014.

The number of claims decreased slightly in Manitoba (-1.4%) and was little changed in Saskatchewan.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Employment Insurance claims
Employment Insurance claims

  Note to readers

Regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits are available to eligible individuals who lose their jobs and who are available for and able to work, but cannot find a job. 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.

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.

All data in this release are seasonally adjusted. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

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.

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

The number of beneficiaries is a measure of all people who received EI benefits from May 10 to 16. This period coincides with the reference week of the Labour Force Survey (LFS). However, initial and renewal claims data are for the entire month.

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

Geographical definitions

A census metropolitan area (CMA) or a census agglomeration (CA) is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centred on a population centre. A CMA, also referred to as a 'metropolitan area' in this release, 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 2011 – Definitions for more information.

Next release

Data on Employment Insurance for June will be released on August 20.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Lahouaria Yssaad (613-951-0627;, Labour Statistics Division.

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