In February, 628,900 people received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, down 8,300 (-1.3%) from January and a fifth consecutive monthly decrease. The number of beneficiaries declined in all provinces except Prince Edward Island.
Lower number of claims
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.
The number of initial and renewal claims totalled 239,000 in February, down 2,700 or 1.1% from January. This was the third decline in four months.
There were fewer claims in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec in February, while the number increased in Saskatchewan and Ontario.
The change in the number of regular EI beneficiaries reflects various situations, including people becoming beneficiaries, people going back to work, and people exhausting their regular benefits.
Fewer beneficiaries in most provinces
In February, the number of regular beneficiaries declined in every province except Prince Edward Island. Over the past five months, the number of beneficiaries has been trending down in all provinces.
The fastest rate of monthly decline in beneficiaries occurred in Saskatchewan, where it fell 5.1% (-600) to 11,200 from January. At the same time, the number decreased in Alberta by 2.9% (-1,300) to 43,100 recipients. In Manitoba, it declined by 2.7% (-390) to 14,300.
In Quebec, 180,300 people received benefits in February, down 1.5% (-2,800) from January, while in Ontario, the number of beneficiaries edged down 0.6% (-1,100) to 191,500.
The number of people receiving regular benefits in February remained virtually unchanged in Prince Edward Island at 8,500 (+0.1%).
Sub-provincial and demographic overview
Employment Insurance data by sub-provincial region, sex and age are not seasonally adjusted and are therefore compared on a year-over-year basis.
Continued year-over-year declines in most large centres
Between February 2010 and February 2011, the number of regular beneficiaries fell by 98,600 (-11.3%) at the national level, with decreases in 129 of the 143 large centres (see map). Large centres are those with a population of 10,000 or more.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the number of beneficiaries declined in all five large centres. The fastest rate of decrease occurred in St. John's, which fell by 12.4% (-800) to 5,600, the 11th consecutive month of year-over-year declines.
The number of regular beneficiaries fell in 31 of 33 large centres in Quebec between February 2010 and February 2011. The fastest declines occurred in Saint-Georges, Sorel-Tracy, Granby, La Tuque and Rouyn-Noranda. There were 12.3% fewer beneficiaries (-10,700) in Montréal, the 12th consecutive month of year-over-year declines. In the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Québec, the number of beneficiaries declined by 5.6% (-870) compared with February 2010.
In Ontario, the number of regular beneficiaries has fallen in 38 of its 41 large centres since February 2010. The largest percentage declines occurred in Greater Sudbury, Tillsonburg, Belleville, Guelph and Thunder Bay. In Greater Sudbury, 44.4% fewer people (-2,600) received regular benefits, the eighth consecutive monthly year-over-year decline. In Toronto, 81,100 people received benefits in February, down 18.3% (-18,100) from the same month a year earlier.
In Manitoba, the fastest decline over the past 12 months occurred in Winnipeg, down 17.0% to 8,200 in February.
The number of beneficiaries decreased in all eight large centres in Saskatchewan. The most notable rates of decline occurred in Yorkton and Moose Jaw. In Regina, the number of beneficiaries decreased by 19.9% (-420) to 1,700, while in Saskatoon, 18.1% (-550) fewer people received benefits.
In Alberta, 11 of the 12 large centres had fewer beneficiaries in February compared with February 2010. The pace of decline in the number of beneficiaries was fastest in Brooks, Camrose, Red Deer, Grande Prairie and Calgary. In Calgary, the number of beneficiaries fell by 30.2% (-6,100) to 14,000, while in Edmonton, it declined by 16.2% (-2,900) to 14,900. February marked the 11th consecutive monthly year-over-year decline for both CMAs.
In British Columbia, most large centres had fewer beneficiaries in February than the same month a year earlier. The rate of decline was most pronounced in Fort St. John, Quesnel and Prince George. In Vancouver, 33,400 people received regular benefits in February, down 11.0% (-4,100), the ninth year-over-year monthly decline in a row. The number of beneficiaries fell by 5.6% (-250) to 4,300 in Victoria, the 11th consecutive monthly year-over-year decline.
Faster year-over-year decline for men than women
Between February 2010 and February 2011, the number of men receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits fell by 12.7% or 74,600, continuing the downward trend of year-over-year declines that began in March 2010.
The number of male beneficiaries declined by 14.8% (-59,000) among those aged 25 to 54, and by 14.5% (-11,000) for men under 25 years old. The decline was much slower among men aged 55 and over, at 4.1% (-4,600).
For women, the rate of decrease in the number of beneficiaries was 8.5% (-23,900), the largest of nine consecutive year-over-year percentage decreases.
The number of female beneficiaries fell by 15.1% (-3,500) among those under 25 years old, and by 10.2% (-21,000) among women aged 25 to 54. In contrast, the number of female beneficiaries aged 55 and over edged up by 1.0% (+540).