The number of people receiving regular employment insurance (EI) benefits fell for the third consecutive month, down 8,500 or 1.6 per cent to 531,100 in January, according to Statistics Canada.
Compared with January 2012, the number of beneficiaries was down 8.8 per cent.
Most provinces had fewer beneficiaries in January, with the largest percentage decreases occurring in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Alberta and Manitoba.
The number of regular beneficiaries declined slightly in Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario, while there was no change in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan.
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.
Nationally, the number of initial and renewal claims rose by 8,700 to 238,500 in January.
Provincially, Quebec showed the largest percentage increase in claims at 6.6 per cent, followed by Ontario, which saw a 5.2 per cent increase, and New Brunswick, which saw a 5.2 per cent increase. British Columbia also saw the number of claims rise by 1.7 per cent from the previous month.
At the same time, claims fell 1.4 per cent in Saskatchewan and 1.2 per cent in Nova Scotia. There was little change in the other provinces.
For the first time, seasonally adjusted data on beneficiaries are available for census metropolitan areas (CMAs). This will allow for month-to-month analysis at a more detailed geographic level, Statistics Canada says.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the number of people receiving regular benefits fell for the second consecutive month, down 5.3 per cent in January. In the CMA of St. John's, the number of beneficiaries decreased by three per cent compared with the previous month, continuing a series of declines that began in the spring of 2011.
In New Brunswick, the number of people receiving benefits fell 2.7 per cent in January, the third monthly decrease in a row. In Moncton, the number declined seven per cent, the third consecutive monthly decrease, and the largest decline in January among all CMAs in the country. In Saint John, however, the number of people receiving benefits increased for the fifth consecutive month, up one per cent in January.
The number of regular beneficiaries in Alberta fell by 2.5 per cent, the second consecutive monthly decrease. In Calgary, the number of people receiving benefits declined by two per cent from the previous month, and in Edmonton it decreased by 1.9 per cent. Compared with 12 months earlier, Edmonton 16 per cent posted one of the fastest rates of decline among all CMAs. The rate of decline recorded in Calgary was 2.5 per cent over the same period.
In Manitoba, the number of people receiving regular benefits fell for the third month in a row, down 2.3 per cent in January. In Winnipeg, the number of beneficiaries was little changed from the previous month.
Following declines in the two previous months, the number of beneficiaries in Quebec edged down 1.5 per cent in January. Among the province's six CMAs, three saw declines from the previous month: Gatineau (-3.5 per cent), Montréal (-2.9 per cent) and Trois-Rivières (-1.1 per cent), while there was an increase in Saguenay (+1.3 per cent), and little change in Sherbrooke and Québec.
In Ontario, the number of beneficiaries edged down by 1.1 per cent in January, following similar decreases in the previous two months. There were declines in nine of the 15 CMAs in the province, with a rate of decrease ranging from 1.3 per cent in Toronto to 6.5 per cent in Guelph. Among the five CMAs with more beneficiaries in January than the previous month, increases ranged from one per cent in Hamilton to 4.3 per cent in Windsor. Brantford was the lone CMA with no change.
EI beneficiaries declines in most occupations
Also for the first time, Statistics Canada is providing analysis of the number of beneficiaries by occupation, as data on this variable are now available.
Most major occupation groups posted declines in the number of people receiving regular benefits in January compared with the previous month. Occupations unique to processing, manufacturing and utilities posted the largest percentage decrease, falling by 3.1 per cent, and the third consecutive monthly decline. They were followed by occupations in social science, education, government service and religion, which fell by 2.8 per cent and also recorded their third consecutive monthly decline.
In January, three occupation groups saw little change in the number of beneficiaries: primary industries; art, culture, recreation and sports; as well as natural and applied sciences. In the latter group, the number of beneficiaries had been increasing slightly since July 2012. It is the only occupation group that had showed an upward trend over that period.
Compared with January 2012, the number of beneficiaries fell in virtually all major occupational groups. The largest decline occurred in occupations unique to processing, manufacturing and utilities, which fell by 15.2 per cent. The only occupation group that showed little change in the number of beneficiaries was art, culture, recreation and sports.
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