In August, 511,900 people received regular employment insurance (EI) benefits, up 1.5 per cent, or 7,800, from July. Compared with August 2012, the number of beneficiaries fell by 7.8 per cent.
The majority of provinces saw increases in the number of beneficiaries in August compared with July — most notably Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Quebec.
The number of regular EI beneficiaries in Alberta rose by 3.6 per cent in August, offsetting a decline that occurred in July. There were also offsetting changes in both Calgary and Edmonton.
British Columbia also had more people receiving regular benefits. The province saw a 2.2 per cent increase in the number of beneficiaries. This was the first increase in nearly two years. All four metropolitan areas in the province posted increases, ranging from one percent in Victoria to 6.1 per cent in Abbotsford–Mission, where the number of beneficiaries had declined for six months in a row.
The number of regular EI beneficiaries in Nova Scotia rose by 1.7 per cent in August, partly offsetting a decline the previous month. There was little change in Halifax, after a notable decrease in July.
In Quebec, the number of people receiving benefits also rose by 1.7 per cent in August, following a notable decline the previous month. Three metropolitan areas in the province experienced increases, ranging from three per cent in Sherbrooke to 9.7 per cent in Trois-Rivières. There was little or no change in Québec, Montréal and Gatineau. In Montréal, the number of beneficiaries stood at 51,600 in August, the lowest level since July 2008.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the number of beneficiaries increased by 1.4 per cent, after a small decline the previous month. The number of people receiving benefits in St. John's was little changed.
The number of beneficiaries in Ontario was up 1.3 per cent in August, following little change over the past few months. Of the 15 metropolitan areas in the province, eight saw increases ranging from one per cent in Ottawa to 4.1 per cent in Thunder Bay, while there was little or no change in the remaining areas. In Toronto, 62,300 people received regular benefits in August, up 1.5 per cent from July.
There were also slightly more beneficiaries in Saskatchewan (one per cent). Both Regina (2.3 per cent) and Saskatoon (one per cent) saw increases in the number of beneficiaries in August, after three consecutive months of declines.
Fewer people received regular benefits in Manitoba in August. The province had 1.3 per cent less beneficiaries. In the metropolitan area of Winnipeg, the number of beneficiaries fell 2.3 per cent. This was the fourth consecutive monthly decline for both the province and Winnipeg.
The number of beneficiaries was down slightly in Prince Edward Island (one per cent), while there was little change overall in New Brunswick.
In August, there were more beneficiaries in two major occupation groups: trades, transport and equipment operation, up 4.6 per cent, and natural and applied science occupations, up 2.2 per cent and the second increase in three months. By contrast, there was little change in the other occupation groups.
On a year-over-year basis, the number of beneficiaries was down in all major occupation groups, except natural and applied science occupations. The declines ranged from 3.3 per cent in management to 16.3 per cent in health occupations, the group which continues to exhibit the fastest rate of decrease among all occupation groups. At the same time, the number of beneficiaries in natural and applied science occupations was up 9.5 per cent in August, the sixth consecutive month of year-over-year increases for this group.
The number of men receiving regular benefits rose by 2.9 per cent in August, largely offsetting the decline in the previous month. Among women, the number of beneficiaries was little changed, following three months of slight decreases.
On a year-over-year basis, women aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 54 receiving benefits posted the fastest rates of decline. Women aged 15 to 24 experienced a 14.7 per cent decline; women aged 25 to 54 experienced a 12.7 per cent decline. The corresponding rates of decline for their male counterparts were 7.2 per cent and 6.7 per cent, respectively.
In contrast, the number of beneficiaries decreased at a slower pace for women 55 and older. This group saw a 3.2 per cent decline. Their male counterparts experienced a 2.1 per cent decline. For women aged 55 and older, the year-over-year decline in August was the eighth in a row, while for men in the same age group, it was the first decrease in five months.
The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.
Following an increase in July, the number of initial and renewal claims fell 5.4 per cent to 225,100 in August. Compared with August 2012, claims were down 1.8 per cent.
In August, there were 19.7 per cent fewer claims in Saskatchewan, offsetting an increase the month before. Notably, the number of claims also fell by 9.3 per cent in Ontario and 9.1 per cent in British Columbia. Manitoba experienced a decline of 6.2 per cent, following an increase of similar magnitude in July.
Smaller declines occurred in New Brunswick (4.7 per cent), Alberta (4.5 per cent) and Nova Scotia (2.8 per cent). At the same time, there was little or no change in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Prince Edward Island.
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