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Employment Insurance, January 2024

Released: 2024-03-21

The number of Canadians receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits was little changed in January (+0.3%; +1,600) and stood at 468,000. From January 2023 to January 2024, the total number of regular EI beneficiaries increased by 71,000 (+18.0%), partly offsetting the year-over-year decline of 271,000 (-40.6%) from January 2022 to January 2023.

Data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) show that the unemployment rate declined 0.1 percentage points to 5.7% in January 2024, the first decline since December 2022. The unemployment rate had been on an upward trend through most of 2023, rising from 5.1% in April to 5.8% in December.

In general, variations in the number of EI 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: The number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries up slightly since July 2023
The number of regular Employment Insurance beneficiaries up slightly since July 2023

More young women and men receive regular Employment Insurance benefits in January

In January 2024, there were 800 (+1.7%) more youth (aged 15 to 24 years) receiving regular EI benefits, the second increase in three months. The increase in January was split evenly between young women (+400; +2.9%) and young men (+400; +1.2%). Compared with January 2023, the number of regular EI recipients increased by 7,300 (+29.3%) among young men and by 1,900 (+17.1%) among young women in January 2024. The LFS data show that over the same 12-month period, the youth unemployment rate rose 1.1 percentage points to 10.8%, indicating more difficult labour market conditions for youth.

In January, the number of regular EI recipients among women aged 55 years and older fell by 500 (-1.0%), while it was little changed for older men. Over the 12 months ending in January, more older men (+9,400; +13.3%) and older women (+4,100; +9.6%) received regular EI benefits.

While the number of core-aged (25 to 54 years old) men and women receiving regular EI benefits was little changed in January, it increased on a year-over-year basis for core-aged men (+32,000; +21.2%) and core-aged women (+16,000; +17.1%). According to the LFS, the unemployment rate increased on a year-over-year basis among core-aged men (+0.8 percentage points to 5.1%) and core-aged women (+0.9 percentage points to 5.0%).

More regular Employment Insurance recipients in Alberta and Saskatchewan and fewer in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia

The number of regular EI beneficiaries in January rose in Alberta and Saskatchewan, while it declined in Newfoundland and Labrador and in Nova Scotia. There was little change in the other provinces.

In Alberta, the number of people receiving regular EI benefits in January rose by 1,800 (+3.4%), the fourth consecutive monthly increase. Core-aged men (+900; +4.0%) and women (+400; +3.0%) posted an increase, along with men aged 55 years and older (+400; +5.3%). Data from the LFS show that after falling to a recent low of 5.5% in September 2023, the unemployment rate in the province trended up to 6.2% in January 2024. The Calgary (+600; +3.8%) and Edmonton (+600; +3.5%) census metropolitan areas both recorded increases in the number of regular EI recipients in the month.

There were also more EI recipients in Saskatchewan in January (+300; +1.8%), the second increase in three months. In contrast, the number of beneficiaries fell in Newfoundland and Labrador (-400; -1.3%) in January, following little change over the final three months of 2023. The number of EI recipients receiving regular benefits also fell in Nova Scotia (-300; -1.5%), following little change in four of the previous five months.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Number of regular Employment Insurance recipients rises most notably in Alberta in January
Number of regular Employment Insurance recipients rises most notably in Alberta in January

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Sustainable Development Goals

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

Employment Insurance statistics are an example of how Statistics Canada supports reporting on global sustainable development goals. This release will be used to help measure the following goal:

  Note to readers

Availability of data by occupation

Statistics Canada is currently revising the Employment Insurance Statistics (EIS) data to conform to the 2021 National Occupational Classification (NOC) standard. This will result in EIS occupation categories aligning with the 2021 Census of Population and Labour Force Survey (LFS) NOC 2021 categories. The release of revised data is planned for later in 2024. Until then, information on Employment Insurance (EI) beneficiaries by occupation, including tables 14-10-0336-01 and 14-10-0337-01, will not be available.

Concepts and methodology

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.

EI statistics indicate the number of people who received EI benefits and should not be confused with 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, unless otherwise specified. To model the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, values for all series from March 2020 to November 2021 have been treated with a combination of level shifts and outliers to determine a seasonal pattern for seasonal adjustment. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

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

The number of beneficiaries is all people who received regular EI benefits from January 14 to 20, 2024. This period coincides with the reference week of the LFS.

A census metropolitan area (CMA) and a census agglomeration (CA) are formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centred 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 February will be released on April 18.


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, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (

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