The number of people receiving regular employment insurance benefits decreased by 18,100 (three per cent) in May to 577,300 in Canada. This was the eighth consecutive monthly decline.
There were fewer beneficiaries in most provinces, with the largest percentage declines in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba.
In May, 238,400 initial and renewal claims for EI were received, up slightly (1.3 per cent) from the previous month. The number of claims increased sharply in Saskatchewan (23.9 per cent) as well as Newfoundland and Labrador (21.7 per cent). There were slower increases in Manitoba (5.7 per cent) and Quebec (3.1 per cent). At the same time, there were declines in other provinces, with the most notable percentage decreases in Prince Edward Island (7.2 per cent) and New Brunswick (2.3 per cent).
Beneficiaries by province
The number of beneficiaries in Alberta fell by 7.1 per cent to 34,400, extending the downward trend that began in the fall of 2010.
In Ontario, the number of beneficiaries decreased by 3.3 per cent in May to 175,200, the eighth consecutive monthly decline. The downward trend also continued in Quebec and Manitoba, as the number of beneficiaries in May decreased by 3.2 per cent in both provinces.
While the downward trend also continued in Newfoundland and Labrador (2.7 per cent), British Columbia (2.4 per cent) and Saskatchewan (2.2 per cent), the percentage decline was slower in May.
P.E.I. was the only province with a notable percentage increase in the number of beneficiaries, up 3.5 per cent in May. This follows an increase of 2.3 per cent the previous month. There was little change in May in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Most large centres show year-over-year declines
Between May 2010 and May 2011, the number of people receiving regular benefits at the national level fell by 109,000 (16.9 per cent). Declines occurred in 129 of the 143 large centres with a population of 10,000 or more.
The number of people receiving regular benefits fell in all five large centres of Newfoundland and Labrador, with the fastest pace of decline occurring in St. John’s (13.2 per cent). This continues the trend of monthly year-over-year decreases that began in April 2010 for St. John’s.
There were fewer beneficiaries between May 2010 and May 2011 in 27 of the 33 large centres in Quebec, with the fastest decline occurring in Saint-Georges. Over the same period, the number of beneficiaries also decreased sharply in the census metropolitan area of Quebec City, falling by 26.9 per cent to 7,200.
At the same time, the percentage decline was slower in Montreal, down 18.2 per cent to 51,900.
In Ontario, nearly all large centres posted year-over-year declines in the number of beneficiaries. In Toronto, the number of beneficiaries fell by 22.2 per cent to 64,900. This rate of decrease was slightly higher than the average pace of year-over-year declines seen over the previous 11 months.
In Manitoba, the number of people receiving regular benefits fell or was unchanged in all four large centres. The fastest rate of decline occurred in Winnipeg, down 29.8 per cent to 5,200. This was the largest of nine consecutive monthly year-over-year percentage decreases for Winnipeg.
There were year-over-year declines in the number of beneficiaries for all eight large centres in Saskatchewan. The number of beneficiaries fell by 34.5 per cent to 1,500 in Saskatoon and by 30.4 per cent to 960 in Regina.
In Alberta, all 12 large centres had fewer beneficiaries in May compared with May 2010. The number of people receiving regular benefits in May totalled 10,100 in both Calgary and Edmonton, down 36.2 per cent and 30 per cent respectively from 12 months earlier.
The number of people receiving regular benefits decreased in all large centres of B.C. The number of beneficiaries fell by 25.6 per cent to 26,100 in Vancouver and by 15.9 per cent to 3,100 in Victoria.
In May, the number of men receiving regular EI benefits fell 18 per cent from 12 months earlier to 332,900. For women, the rate of decline over the same period was slightly slower (15.1 per cent), with 203,400 women receiving benefits. These decreases extend the year-over-year downward trend that began in March 2010 for men and June 2010 for women.
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