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Employment Insurance, February 2019

Released: 2019-04-18

In February, 441,200 people received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, an increase of 4,400 or 1.0% from January.

The number of beneficiaries increased in four provinces: Ontario (+3.1%), British Columbia (+2.7%), Alberta (+1.9%) and Nova Scotia (+1.1%). At the same time, the number of beneficiaries declined in New Brunswick (-2.4%), Newfoundland and Labrador (-1.2%) and Prince Edward Island (-1.1%). There was little change in Manitoba, Quebec and Saskatchewan.

Compared with February 2018, the number of EI recipients in Canada was down by 38,400 or 8.0%, with notable year-over-year decreases in eight provinces.

In general, variations in the number of beneficiaries can reflect changes in the circumstances of different groups, including those becoming beneficiaries, those going back to work, those exhausting their regular benefits, and those no longer receiving benefits for other reasons.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries

Provincial and sub-provincial overview

In Ontario, the number of EI beneficiaries rose by 3.1% to 111,800 in February. Despite this monthly increase, the number of recipients in the province has been trending downward since the spring of 2017. There were increases across much of the province, led by the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Oshawa (+7.1%). On a year-over-year basis, the number of beneficiaries was down 8.5% in the province.

In February, the number of EI beneficiaries in British Columbia increased by 2.7% to 41,100, continuing an upward trend which began in November 2018. Increases were observed across the province, led by the CMA of Victoria (+6.1%). Compared with 12 months earlier, British Columbia had 9.0% fewer EI beneficiaries.

There were 51,600 EI recipients in Alberta in February, an increase of 1.9%. Most of this rise was in the CMAs of Calgary (+2.9%) and Edmonton (+1.1%). This was the third consecutive notable monthly increase in the province. Despite recent increases, Alberta (-15.9%) had the largest year-over-year decrease among the provinces.

In Nova Scotia there were 26,800 people receiving regular EI benefits in February, an increase of 1.1%, with most of the rise taking place in areas outside CMAs and census agglomerations (CAs) (+1.8%). Compared with February 2018, the number of beneficiaries in the province was virtually unchanged.

The number of people receiving EI benefits in New Brunswick fell by 2.4% to 28,700 in February. Declines were recorded across the province, led by the CMA of Saint John (-6.3%). On a year-over-year basis, the number of EI recipients declined by 4.0%.

Newfoundland and Labrador had 33,400 EI recipients in February, a 1.2% decrease from January. The number of beneficiaries in the province has been trending downward since the summer of 2017 and declined by 11.0% in February compared with 12 months earlier. According to the Labour Force Survey, the unemployment rate in the province fell from 14.2% to 11.8% over the same period.

In Prince Edward Island there were 8,000 EI recipients in February, down 1.1% from January. The number of beneficiaries in the province was unchanged compared with February 2018.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by province, January to February 2019
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by province, January to February 2019

Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation

In February, the number of EI beneficiaries was little changed in 6 of the 10 broad occupational groups. Among the remaining four groups, the largest percentage increase was observed among those who were last employed in manufacturing and utilities (+4.7%). Smaller increases were observed in trades, transport and equipment operator occupations (+1.6%), as well as in education, law and social, community and government services (+1.6%). At the same time, there was a decline in the number of beneficiaries who last worked in occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport (-1.6%).

Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of EI beneficiaries decreased in 9 of the 10 broad occupational groups. Declines were led by those who last held occupations in management (-13.7%), health (-13.3%), sales and service (-12.5%), business, finance and administration (-11.2%) and natural and applied sciences (-10.3%). There was little change in the number who had last worked in education, law and social, community and government services occupations.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, February 2018 to February 2019
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries by occupation, February 2018 to February 2019

Employment Insurance claims

In February, there were 231,900 claims, essentially unchanged from January. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries. Claims data pertain to initial and renewal claims received for any type of EI benefits, which includes special benefits.

Provincially, claims fell in Alberta (-4.3%), Quebec (-3.5%) and Prince Edward Island (-3.1%). Declines were also observed in Saskatchewan (-2.7%), Newfoundland and Labrador (-2.0%) and New Brunswick (-1.8%).

At the same time, claims increased in Ontario (+4.4%) and British Columbia (+3.1%), while there was little change in Manitoba and Nova Scotia.

Compared with February 2018, the number of claims rose by 3.6% at the national level.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Employment Insurance claims
Employment Insurance claims





Sustainable Development Goals

On January 1, 2016, the world officially began implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—the United Nations' transformative plan of action that addresses urgent global challenges over the next 15 years. The plan is based on 17 specific sustainable development goals.

Employment Insurance is an example of how Statistics Canada supports the reporting on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This release will be used in helping to measure the following goal:

  Note to readers

Concepts and methodology

The analysis presented here focuses on people who received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits related to job loss. Claims data pertain to initial and renewal claims received for any type of EI benefits, including special benefits.

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.

Regular EI benefits are paid 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.

EI statistics indicate the number of people who received EI benefits, and should not be confused with Labour Force Survey (LFS) data, which provide estimates of 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 was 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.

Numbers in the Daily text are rounded to the nearest hundred.

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 February 10 to 16. This period coincides with the reference week of the LFS. However, claims data are for the entire month.

Geographical definitions

A census metropolitan area (CMA) or a census agglomeration (CA) is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centered on a population centre. A CMA 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 EI for March will be released on May 23.

Products

More information about the concepts and use of Employment Insurance statistics is available online in the Guide to Employment Insurance Statistics (Catalogue number73-506-G).

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca).

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Valerie Gagnon (613-867-5782; valerie.gagnon@canada.ca), Labour Statistics Division.

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