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Employment Insurance, December 2019

Released: 2020-02-20

In December, 448,000 people received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, little changed from November. There were notable decreases in five provinces, led by New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. At the same time, there were more EI beneficiaries in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of EI recipients in Canada edged down as decreases in six provinces were partially offset by increases in British Columbia and Ontario.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries little changed in December
Regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries little changed in December

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 New Brunswick, 29,600 people received regular EI benefits in December, a decline of 4.0% from the previous month. Decreases were widespread across the province, notably in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Saint John (-5.0%) and in the areas outside CMAs and census agglomerations (CAs) (-4.3%). Compared with December 2018, the number of EI beneficiaries in the province decreased 3.6%. At the same time, Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimates showed the unemployment rate decreased 1.0 percentage point in New Brunswick.

There were 7,600 EI recipients in Prince Edward Island in December, down 3.3% from November. Declines were led by the areas outside the CAs (-2.5%). On a year-over-year basis, the number of EI beneficiaries in Prince Edward Island fell 8.3%, coinciding with an unemployment rate decline of 1.7 percentage points as reported by the LFS.

In Quebec, the number of people receiving regular EI benefits was down 2.0% to 105,800 in December. This marks the fourth consecutive monthly decrease after having reached a high point in August 2019. Fewer beneficiaries were recorded in the CMAs of Sherbrooke (-9.2%), Trois-Rivières (-3.8%) and Montréal (-2.4%). Compared with December 2018, the number of EI beneficiaries in the province decreased 3.3%.

In December, the number of regular EI beneficiaries in Newfoundland and Labrador fell 1.7% to 32,100. There were decreases in the CMA of St. John's (-2.9%) and in the CAs (-2.1%). In the 12 months to December, the number of EI recipients in Newfoundland and Labrador steadily declined, down 6.2% on a year-over-year basis.

There were 25,700 EI recipients in Nova Scotia in December, down 1.0% from the previous month. Decreases were primarily attributable to the CA of Cape Breton (-2.0%) and areas outside the CMA of Halifax and CAs (-1.7%). Compared with December 2018, the number of EI beneficiaries in the province declined 5.3%.

In Alberta, 50,600 people received regular EI benefits in December, an increase of 2.7% from the previous month. There were more beneficiaries in the CMAs of Lethbridge (+5.5%), Calgary (+3.5%) and Edmonton (+2.0%). Following a long-term downward trend, the number of beneficiaries in the province stabilized through 2018 and most of 2019, ending the year with a 1.5% increase in December compared with 12 months earlier.

In December, the number of regular EI beneficiaries in Saskatchewan rose 1.4% to 16,200. Increases in Saskatoon (+3.3%) and in areas outside of CMAs and CAs (+1.8%) accounted for all of the change. Compared with December 2018, the number of EI recipients in the province increased 1.8%.

There were 41,800 EI recipients in British Columbia in December, up 1.4% from the previous month. The number of beneficiaries grew in the CMAs of Kelowna (+4.2%) and Vancouver (+2.4%). Increases were also recorded in the CAs (+1.5%), notably in Nanaimo and Duncan. On a year-over-year basis, the number of EI recipients in British Columbia increased 4.5%, after reaching an all-time low at the end of 2018.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Notable decreases in Employment Insurance beneficiaries in five provinces, led by New Brunswick
Notable decreases in Employment Insurance beneficiaries in five provinces, led by New Brunswick

Claims virtually unchanged in December

In December, there were 244,600 EI claims, virtually unchanged from November. 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.

There were decreases in Nova Scotia (-4.0%), Ontario (-2.9%), Prince Edward Island (-2.7%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-1.9%). In contrast, the number of claims in December increased in Manitoba (+4.3%), British Columbia (+4.2%) and Quebec (+1.4%).

On a year-over-year basis, the number of claims at the national level was up 3.4%. There were notable increases in Manitoba (+11.0%), Saskatchewan (+8.3%) and British Columbia (+8.1%), while there were declines in Prince Edward Island (-6.0%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-4.1%).

Chart 3  Chart 3: Employment Insurance claims virtually unchanged in December
Employment Insurance claims virtually unchanged in December




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 statistics are 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. In this release, data by occupation were not updated with December 2019 estimates, due to a quality issue affecting this reference period only.

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 jobs 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 month and the previous month are subject to revision.

The number of beneficiaries is a measure of all people who received EI benefits from December 8 to 14. 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 January will be released on March 19.

Products

More information about the concepts and use of Employment Insurance statistics is available 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 Nicolas Franchi (613-294-9706; nicolas.franchi@canada.ca), Centre for Labour Market Information.

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