The number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits rose on a monthly basis across Alberta and its major cities in December, and remains elevated compared to a year ago.
On Thursday, Statistics Canada reported that EI recipients in the province increased by 2.4 per cent from November or by 1,110 people, “led by those who last worked in natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations.”
“This marked the largest rise in beneficiaries in the province in two years, and may be partially linked to weaker oil prices in the fall of 2018. The largest percentage increase in the number of recipients occurred in the areas outside CMAs and census agglomerations (CAs) (+4.3 per cent). Compared with 12 months earlier, the number of beneficiaries in Alberta decreased by 24.3 per cent,” said the federal agency.
In the Calgary census metropolitan area, the monthly gain in EI recipients was 90 people (0.6 per cent) while it declined by 6,510 (31.2 per cent) on an annual basis. In the Edmonton census, the monthly gain was 410 people (2.3 per cent) but a decline of 4,370 (19.7 per cent) year-over-year.
Across Canada in December, 446,300 people received regular EI benefits, up 4,600 or 1.0 per cent from November. The number of beneficiaries increased in six provinces: New Brunswick (+4.6 per cent), Saskatchewan (+3.6 per cent), Prince Edward Island (+2.6 per cent), Alberta (+2.4 per cent), Manitoba (+2.2 per cent) and British Columbia (+2.0 per cent), said StatsCan.
On a year-over-year basis, the number of EI recipients in Canada fell by 52,700 (-10.6 per cent).
“In general, variations in the number of 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,” it said.
Nationally in December the biggest percentage increases in the number of EI beneficiaries were among those who were last employed in natural resources, agriculture and related production (+2.1 per cent); and sales and service (+1.6 per cent).
“In December, the number of Employment Insurance claims edged down 0.9 per cent to 234,500. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries,” said the federal agency.
“Claims increased in Newfoundland and Labrador (+3.2 per cent), Saskatchewan (+2.5 per cent) and Quebec (+1.1 per cent). At the same time, decreases were observed in Manitoba (-4.8 per cent), Ontario (-3.8 per cent), New Brunswick (-3.0 per cent) and Nova Scotia (-1.8 per cent). There was little change in Alberta, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island.”
– Mario Toneguzzi