The number of people receiving regular employment insurance (EI) benefits continued to trend down for the fifth consecutive month in March, declining slightly by one per cent, or 5,200, to 523,700. Compared with a year earlier, the number of beneficiaries was down 8.1 per cent.
All four Western provinces, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador, had fewer beneficiaries in March, while there was little change in the other provinces.
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 rose by three per cent, or 6,800, to 230,700 in March, partly offsetting the decline observed the previous month. Alberta (up 12.6 per cent) posted the largest percentage increase in claims in March with a 12.6 per cent increase, followed by New Brunswick with a 4.1 per cent increase.
Smaller percentage increases occurred in Nova Scotia, which experienced a 3.5 per cent increase, while Quebec saw a 3.5 per cent increase and Ontario experienced a 2.7 per cent increase. There was little or no change in the other provinces.
The number of regular EI beneficiaries in Saskatchewan fell 3.1 per cent in March. This was the fourth consecutive monthly decrease for the province. Saskatoon saw a 3.8 per cent decline and Regina saw 2.1 per cent fewer beneficiaries than in the previous month.
In Alberta, the number of people receiving benefits fell for the fourth consecutive month, decreasing 2.6 per cent in March. In Calgary, the number of beneficiaries decreased for the third month in a row, down 2.5 per cent. At the same time, there was little change in Edmonton.
The number of people receiving regular benefits in British Columbia declined 2.4 per cent in March, continuing a seven-month downward trend. Of the four metropolitan areas in the province, three posted declines, with Abbotsford–Mission recording the largest decline at 6.6 per cent. The decline in Abbotsford–Mission was also the largest monthly percentage decline among all metropolitan areas in the country. Decreases also occurred in Vancouver, which dropped by 1.8 per cent and Victoria, which saw a 1.3 per cent decline. In Kelowna, the number of beneficiaries increased 1.9 per cent, following a decline the previous month.
There were 2.1 per cent fewer beneficiaries in Newfoundland and Labrador, the fourth consecutive monthly decline in the province. In the metropolitan area of St. John's, the number of beneficiaries decreased by 1.7 per cent, continuing an eight-month downward trend.
In Manitoba, the number of people receiving regular benefits fell 1.4 per cent in March, the fifth monthly decrease in a row. In Winnipeg, the number of beneficiaries was down 1.7 per cent, the second consecutive monthly decline.
After four months of decline, the number of beneficiaries in Quebec was little changed in March. There was also little change in Montréal, where the number of people receiving benefits stood at 55,000.
The number of beneficiaries in Ontario was virtually unchanged from the previous month. In Toronto, 62,900 people received benefits in March, unchanged from February.
Compared with 12 months earlier, most metropolitan areas had fewer beneficiaries, with the declines ranging from two per cent in Halifax to 20.7 per cent in Abbotsford–Mission. At the same time, four metropolitan areas posted increases, ranging from 4.3 per cent in Oshawa to 15.9 per cent in Greater Sudbury. Regina was the only area where the number of beneficiaries was virtually unchanged.
EI beneficiaries declines in most occupations
In March, three major occupation groups posted notable declines in the number of beneficiaries compared with the previous month. The largest decrease came in art, culture, recreation and sport, where the number of people receiving regular benefits fell for the second consecutive month in March, down 2.3 per cent.
Notable monthly declines also occurred in health occupations, which fell by 2.1 per cent, and in occupations in social science, education, government service and religion, which experienced a 1.9 per cent decline. In both of these occupation groups, the decline in March was the fifth in a row. There was little or no change in the other occupation groups.
Compared with 12 months earlier, all occupation groups posted declines, with the exception of natural and applied science occupations where the number of beneficiaries was unchanged. These declines ranged from 3.1 per cent in art, culture, recreation and sport to 11.5 per cent in occupations unique to processing, manufacturing and utilities.
EI beneficiaries in major demographic groups
The number of regular EI beneficiaries among women fell for the fifth consecutive month, down 1.6 per cent in March, and was shared between women aged 15 to 24, which declined by 2.2 per cent, and those aged 25 to 54, which declined by 1.7 per cent. Among women 55 and over and men of all age groups, the number of beneficiaries was little changed from the previous month.
On a year-over-year basis, the slowest rate of decline continued to be among people 55 and over, which fell 1.9 percentage points.
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