Following three consecutive months of decline, the number of people receiving regular employment insurance (EI) benefits was virtually unchanged in February, at 528,900. Compared with a year earlier, the number of beneficiaries was down 7.4 per cent.
A number of provinces had fewer beneficiaries in February, with the largest percentage decreases in Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
British Columbia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador all saw small declines. 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 fell by 15,200 to 223,900 in February, more than offsetting the increase recorded the previous month. Claims in Quebec decreased by 7.9 per cent, which was the largest percentage decline in claims in February. This was followed by Ontario, which saw a 7.4 per cent decline and New Brunswick, which saw a 6.8 per cent decline.
Alberta experienced a 5.5 per cent decline, British Columbia experienced a 4.2 per cent decline and Saskatchewan saw a 3.2 per cent decline. At the same time, claims fell 2.8 per cent in Nova Scotia and fell 1.8 per cent in Manitoba. There was little or no change in Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island.
The number of EI regular beneficiaries in Prince Edward Island declined 2.8 per cent in February. This was the fourth consecutive monthly decrease for the province.
In Manitoba, the number of people receiving benefits fell 2.4 per cent in February — the fourth monthly decrease in a row. In Winnipeg, the number of beneficiaries was down 2.2 per cent from the previous month.
In Saskatchewan, the number of beneficiaries decreased for the third consecutive month, down 1.7 per cent in February. In Regina and Saskatoon, there was little change from the previous month.
The number of people receiving benefits in British Columbia declined 1.4 per cent in February, continuing a six-month downward trend. Kelowna experienced a 1.5 per cent decline, while Abbotsford–Mission had 1.3 per cent fewer beneficiaries than the previous month. There was little change in Vancouver and Victoria.
There were 1.3 per cent fewer beneficiaries in Newfoundland and Labrador, the third consecutive monthly decline in the province. In St. John's, the number was down 1.7 per cent.
In New Brunswick, the number of beneficiaries fell for the fourth month in a row, down one per cent in February. Both Moncton and Saint John posted declines from the previous month at 2.1 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively.
The number of beneficiaries in Quebec was little changed in February, after three months of decline. Montréal also saw little change, following three consecutive monthly declines.
The number of beneficiaries in Ontario was little changed in February, after three months of decline. In Toronto, 62,800 people received benefits in February, up 1.5 per cent from January.
EI beneficiaries declines in most occupations
Among all major occupation groups, two posted notable declines in the number of beneficiaries in February compared with the previous month. Occupations in social science, education, government service and religion decreased by 2.6 per cent and occupations unique to primary industry decreased 1.3 per cent. For both of these occupation groups, the decline in February was the fourth in a row. There was little or no change in the other occupation groups.
Compared with February 2012, the number of beneficiaries fell markedly in all but one of the major occupation groups. The largest decline occurred in occupations unique to processing, manufacturing and utilities, which decreased by 12.2 per cent. This was followed by business, finance and administrative occupations. There was little change in occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport.
EI beneficiaries in major demographic groups
The number of EI regular beneficiaries among young men aged 15 to 24 declined two per cent in February. This was the fourth consecutive monthly decrease for this group, and brought their year-over-year rate of decline to 12.8 per cent, the largest of all demographic groups.
For all the other groups, the number of beneficiaries was little changed in February. On a year-over-year basis, the slowest rate of decline was among people aged 55 and over, which fell by 1.6 per cent.
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