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Employment Insurance, May 2019

Released: 2019-07-18

In May, 441,300 people received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, similar to the previous month. Decreases in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island were offset by increases in Quebec and Ontario.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of EI beneficiaries in Canada decreased by 19,600 (-4.3%), with declines in all provinces except New Brunswick. Over the same period, employment at the national level trended up by 2.4% according to the Labour Force Survey (LFS). In addition, Job Vacancy and Wage Survey data show that job vacancies were up 9.6% in the first quarter of 2019, compared with the same quarter a year earlier.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries in Canada little changed in May
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries in Canada little changed in May

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.

Provincial and sub-provincial overview

In Alberta, 49,100 people received regular EI benefits in May, a decrease of 3.8% from the previous month. The decline was similar to the one observed in April. In May, there were decreases in the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Edmonton (-5.7%) and Calgary (-2.9%) and also in the census agglomerations (CAs) (-5.3%), notably in Medicine Hat and Wood Buffalo. At the provincial level, the majority of the decline in May was among beneficiaries who had last worked in trades, transport and equipment operations (-6.1%). Following a substantial decline in natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations (-12.0%) in April, there was little change in the number of recipients who last worked in these occupations in May. Compared with May 2018, the number of recipients in all occupations declined by 7.7% in the province.

The number of beneficiaries in Nova Scotia declined by 2.4% to 25,600 in May, mostly offsetting an increase the month before. There were fewer recipients in the province's CAs (-5.4%), notably in Cape Breton, as well as in the CMA of Halifax (-2.4%). On a year-over-year basis, the number of EI recipients in the province decreased by 4.5%. According to the LFS, the unemployment rate in the province decreased by 0.8 percentage points over the same period to 6.5%, with employment increasing by 3.2%.

In Saskatchewan, the number of beneficiaries fell for the third consecutive month, down 1.8% in May to 15,200. Most of the declines were in the CMAs of Saskatoon (-4.5%) and Regina (-2.7%). Compared with May 2018, the number of beneficiaries in Saskatchewan decreased by 10.2%, the largest percentage decline among the provinces. Also, employment in Saskatchewan rose by 2.7% over the same period and the unemployment rate decreased by 1.5 percentage points to 5.2%.

There were 28,200 people receiving EI benefits in New Brunswick in May, down 1.1% from the previous month. Declines were observed in the CMA of Moncton (-2.7%) and in the CAs (-1.7%), especially in Fredericton. Despite a decrease in May, the number of beneficiaries in the province was 1.2% above the level of 12 months earlier, the result of increases in the second half of 2018.

The number of beneficiaries in Prince Edward Island declined for the fifth consecutive month, down 1.1% to 7,500 in May. On a year-over-year basis, the number of people receiving EI benefits in the province declined by 2.1%.

Quebec had 107,600 EI recipients in May, up 3.3% from April. There were increases in most of the CMAs: Sherbrooke (+6.9%), Trois-Rivières (+5.9%), Montréal (+5.1%) and Ottawa–Gatineau (Quebec part) (+4.8%). Increases were also observed throughout the rest of the province. Compared with May 2018, the number of beneficiaries in the province declined by 3.7%, the result of a downward trend that began in late summer 2018. Coinciding with fewer EI beneficiaries in the province on a year-over-year basis was an unemployment rate hovering around a 43-year low, reaching 4.9% in April and 5.0% in May.

The number of EI recipients in Ontario totalled 116,900, up 2.0% from the previous month. Several CMAs posted increases, ranging from 7.5% in Oshawa to 1.3% in Toronto. There were also more beneficiaries in areas outside CMAs and CAs (+5.0%) as well as in the CAs (+2.3%), mostly in Chatham–Kent, Sault Ste. Marie and Kawartha Lakes. In contrast, there were fewer recipients in the CMA of Windsor (-8.2%). Despite the increase in May, the number of regular EI beneficiaries in Ontario declined by 3.4% year over year. Over the same period, employment in the province increased by 3.1%.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries: increases in Quebec and Ontario offset by declines elsewhere, April to May 2019
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries: increases in Quebec and Ontario offset by declines elsewhere, April to May 2019

Number of beneficiaries down year over year in most occupations

On a year-over-year basis, the number of beneficiaries fell in most broad occupational groups, led by those who last held occupations in health (-11.4%), and in sales and service (-9.9%). At the same time, there was an increase in the number of EI recipients who last worked in natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations (+3.4%).

Chart 3  Chart 3: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries down in most occupations, May 2018 to May 2019
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries down in most occupations, May 2018 to May 2019 

Claims up in most provinces in May

In May, the number of EI claims increased by 1.6% to 230,900. 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.

The largest percentage increases in the month were in Manitoba (+8.2%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+7.0%). Claims also rose in Saskatchewan (+4.4%), Quebec (+3.3%), Nova Scotia (+2.4%) and British Columbia (+1.9%). There was little change in the other provinces.

Compared with May 2018, the number of claims edged up 0.9%, with increases in Prince Edward Island (+14.3%), British Columbia (+3.3%) and Ontario (+2.4%). In contrast, there were declines in Newfoundland and Labrador (-5.4%), Nova Scotia (-2.5%), Saskatchewan (-1.4%) and New Brunswick (-1.1%). There was little change in the other provinces.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Employment Insurance claims up in May
Employment Insurance claims up in May





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 May 12 to 18. 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 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 2016 – definitions for more information.

Next release

Data on EI for June will be released on August 22.

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 Vincent Ferrao (613-951-4750; vincent.ferrao@canada.ca), Labour Statistics Division.

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