MRO Magazine

Number of recipients of EI benefits continues its recent decline

Ottawa, ON -- The number of regular Employment Insurance (EI) beneficiaries fell for the third consecutive mon...


Human Resources

February 22, 2010
By MRO Magazine

Ottawa, ON — The number of regular Employment Insurance (EI) beneficiaries fell for the third consecutive month, down 40,100 in December 2009 to 744,000, Statistics Canada reports. There were fewer beneficiaries in all provinces in December, with the most notable decreases observed in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta.

The number of people receiving regular EI benefits fell by 85,300 since the high point of 829,300 reached last June. Despite the decline in recent months, the number of beneficiaries remains 243,700 above its October 2008 level when employment was at a peak.

Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of people receiving regular EI benefits was higher in December 2009 in all census metropolitan areas (CMAs). The pace of increase, however, has slowed. Between December 2008 and December 2009, the number of regular beneficiaries more than doubled in three CMAs (Calgary, Edmonton and Greater Sudbury). This contrasts with June 2009 when the number of beneficiaries had doubled in 14 CMAs in the previous 12 months.

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. In December, there were 264,700 initial and renewal claims received, a decline of 5,500 from the previous month. This decrease occurred in five provinces, with the most notable decline in Ontario, down 7,200. At the same time, there were increases in five other provinces, particularly in Quebec.

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With the decline in December, the number of initial and renewal claims received continued on a downward trend that began last May. Since then, the number of claims received has fallen by 63,000 with decreases in all provinces.

All provinces saw fewer regular EI beneficiaries in December, especially Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta.

In Ontario, the number of people receiving regular benefits dropped by 16,900 in December to 251,400, bringing total declines since last June to 35,200. Over the same six-month period, employment in the province increased by 34,000 with gains in educational services; health care and social assistance; professional, scientific and technical services as well as construction.

The number of beneficiaries in Quebec fell by 4,600 for the second consecutive month, decreasing to 198,100, a 12,000 decline compared with June 2009.

In British Columbia, the number of EI recipients decreased by 3,300 to 89,300. This represents the fifth decline for the province in six months. Since June 2009, there have been employment gains in a number of industries, most notably finance, insurance, real estate and leasing.

The number of Albertans receiving regular EI benefits totalled 70,100 in December, down 3,200 from November, following three months of increases. This leaves the number of beneficiaries in the province 7,200 above the level of June 2009.

Employment Insurance data by sub-provincial region, sex and age are not seasonally adjusted. Therefore, they are compared on a year-over-year basis.

The number of EI beneficiaries continued to increase in many large centres, but at a slower pace than in recent months. Large centres are those with a population greater than 10,000.

In Ontario, the number of EI recipients more than doubled in only one of its 41 large centres, namely Greater Sudbury. This contrasts with year-over-year increases ending in June, when the number of beneficiaries more than doubled in 26 of the large centres in the province.

In Greater Sudbury, the number of people receiving benefits rose from 2,300 to 4,700. This increase coincided with a decline in employment in a number of industries, including its natural resources sector.

The number of EI recipients in Toronto rose from 58,600 to 87,500 (+49.2%), its slowest year-over-year increase in 2009.

The number of beneficiaries declined in Quebec in almost half of its 33 large centres. This was in sharp contrast with the previous months in 2009, when there were few centres with year-over-year declines.

From December 2008 to December 2009, the number of EI beneficiaries in Montreal rose by 27.4% to 70,700, the largest increase of all centres in the province. The number of beneficiaries rose slightly in Quebec (CMA), up 11.0% to 11,400.

In British Columbia, the number of beneficiaries increased between December 2008 and December 2009 in all large centres, albeit at a slower pace than in previous months. The fastest year-over-year percentage increases were in Fort St. John and Cranbrook. In Vancouver, the number of people receiving regular benefits increased to 35,900 (+15,100) and in Victoria the number of beneficiaries rose to 4,500 (+1,900). In 2009, employment in the province fell in a number of industries, including manufacturing, construction and natural resources.

In Alberta, the number of beneficiaries continued to at least double in virtually all large centres. The year-over-year increases in December, however, were slower than in previous months. In Calgary, the number of people receiving regular benefits increased from 6,300 in December 2008 to 19,600 in December 2009, while the number in Edmonton rose from 6,700 to 17,300 over the same period. In 2009, there were fewer workers employed in the province in manufacturing, natural resources and professional, scientific and technical services.

In December, the year-over-year increase in the number of regular EI beneficiaries was the slowest since January 2009. All of the age groups experienced similar growth rates from December 2008 to December 2009.

The number of beneficiaries aged 55 and over rose by 32.5% in December 2009 compared with 12 months earlier, with women up 36.0% and men up 30.7% over the period.

At the same time, the number of beneficiaries under the age of 25 saw an increase of 31.4% to 77,700 in December 2009. This was much slower than the year-over-year increases observed throughout most of 2009. For the first time since July 2008, women under the age of 25 experienced a larger year-over-year percentage increase than young men, with respective increases of 42.4% and 27.6%.

From December 2008 to December 2009, there were 115,900 more core-aged EI beneficiaries (25 to 54 year-olds), an increase of 29.0%, with similar percentage increases for core-aged men and core-aged women. This contrasts with most of 2009 when the number of male EI beneficiaries aged 25 to 54 grew at a much faster pace than for women in the same age group.