The following is the text of Canada's employment insurance report for Dec. released by Statistics Canada.
The number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits edged up 4,200 (+0.8%) to 544,700 in December. The number of beneficiaries remained relatively stable during the final quarter of the year, but was down 109,400 (-16.7%) compared with 12 months earlier.
There were more people receiving benefits in six provinces, with the largest percentage increases occurring in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario. The largest decline was observed in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries relatively stable in the fourth quarter
Number of Employment Insurance claims unchanged in December
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 was essentially unchanged, at 238,000 in December. Provincially, the number of claims declined 4.8% in Saskatchewan and 1.8% in Quebec. In Newfoundland and Labrador, claims rose 2.7%, while in Alberta, they increased 1.9%. There were no notable changes in the other provinces.
Number of claims unchanged in December
The number of people receiving regular EI benefits in December rose in six provinces, with the largest percentage increases occurring in Manitoba (+3.7%), Saskatchewan (+3.6%) and Ontario (+2.6%). At the same time, the number of beneficiaries in Newfoundland and Labrador fell 2.1%, the third consecutive monthly decline in the province.
Sub-provincial and demographic overview
EI data by sub-provincial region, sex and age are not seasonally adjusted and are therefore compared on a year-over-year basis.
Year-over-year declines continue in most large centres
Between December 2010 and December 2011, the number of people receiving EI regular benefits declined in 131 of the 143 large centres (see map). Large centres are those with a population of 10,000 or more.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the number of beneficiaries was down in four of the five large centres. In St. John's, the number of people receiving benefits fell 16.0%, continuing a series of year-over-year declines that began almost two years earlier.
In Prince Edward Island, both large centres had fewer beneficiaries in December. The biggest percentage decline was in Charlottetown, where the number of beneficiaries fell 14.2%.
In Nova Scotia, all five large centres had fewer beneficiaries in the 12 months to December. The largest percentage decline occurred in Halifax, where the number of people receiving benefits fell 14.1% to 4,900, continuing the downward trend that began in spring 2010.
In New Brunswick, two of the six large centres had fewer beneficiaries in December compared with 12 months earlier. The number of people receiving benefits fell 13.8% in Moncton and 10.6% in Saint John. There was little change in the four other large centres in the province.
In Quebec, the number of beneficiaries declined in 29 of the 33 large centres, with the largest percentage decreases in Rouyn-Noranda, Amos, Montreal and Quebec. In Montreal, the number of people receiving benefits fell 19.1% to 52,800, extending a series of declines that began in spring 2010. In the census metropolitan area of Quebec, the number of beneficiaries declined 17.4% in the 12 months to December.
Of the 41 large centres in Ontario, 38 had fewer beneficiaries in December compared with 12 months earlier. The largest percentage decreases occurred in Hamilton, Stratford, Windsor, Chatham-Kent, Guelph and Toronto. In Toronto, the number of beneficiaries fell 25.6% to 53,700, extending the series of year-over-year monthly declines that started in spring 2010.
In Manitoba, the number of people receiving regular benefits was down in all four large centres in the 12 months to December. In Winnipeg, the number of beneficiaries fell 15.4% to 6,400, the 16th consecutive month of year-over-year declines.
In Saskatchewan, all eight large centres recorded year-over-year declines in the number of beneficiaries, the largest occurring in Moose Jaw, Saskatoon and Regina. In Saskatoon, 1,800 people received benefits, down 19.0%, extending a year-long series of declines. In Regina, the number of beneficiaries fell 13.5% to 1,300, continuing a series of declines that began in summer 2010.
In Alberta, all 12 large centres had fewer beneficiaries in December than 12 months earlier. The largest percentage decreases occurred in Grande Prairie, Cold Lake, Lethbridge and Calgary. In Calgary, 8,100 people received benefits in December, down 38.2% from 12 months earlier, the fastest pace of decline among all census metropolitan areas. In Edmonton, the number of beneficiaries was 9,200, down 33.8%.
In British Columbia, the number of beneficiaries fell in all 25 large centres, with the largest percentage declines in Fort St. John, Powell River, Dawson Creek, Vernon and Vancouver. In Vancouver, 24,400 people received benefits in December, down 25.2% from 12 months earlier. In Victoria, the number of beneficiaries was 3,000, down 23.5%.
In December, 337,500 men received regular benefits, down 16.0% from December 2010. The number of beneficiaries fell 16.2% among men under 25 years of age and 17.2% among those aged 25 to 54. For men aged 55 and over, the number receiving benefits declined 12.2%.
In December, 211,600 women received benefits, down 15.9% from 12 months earlier. Among those under 25, the number of beneficiaries fell 18.4%, while for those aged 25 to 54, it declined 16.7%. For women aged 55 and over, the decline was 12.1%, similar to the rate of decrease for their male counterparts.
Note to readers
The change in the number of regular Employment Insurance (EI) beneficiaries reflects various situations, including people becoming beneficiaries, people going back to work, and people exhausting their regular benefits.
All data in this release are seasonally adjusted unless otherwise specified.
EI statistics are produced from administrative data sources provided by Service Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. These statistics may, from time to time, be affected by changes to the Employment Insurance Act or administrative procedures. The number of regular beneficiaries and the number of claims received for November and December are preliminary. In this release, large centres correspond to those with a population of 10,000 or more.
The number of beneficiaries is a measure of all people who received EI benefits from December 4 to 10. This period coincides with the reference week of the Labour Force Survey (LFS).
EI statistics indicate the number of people who received EI benefits, and should not be confused with data coming from the LFS, which provides information on the total number of unemployed people.
There is always a certain proportion of unemployed people who do not qualify for benefits. Some unemployed people have not contributed to the program because they have not worked in the past 12 months or their employment is not insured. Other unemployed people have contributed to the program but do not meet the eligibility criteria, such as workers who left their job voluntarily or those who did not accumulate enough hours of work to receive benefits.