EI: Fewer Recipients, More Claims

The number of Canadians receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits declined by 7,300 in November. As always, we do not know whether these workers found jobs or simply ran out of benefits. The Labour Force Survey indicated higher employment and slightly lower unemployment that month, which supports a positive interpretation.

Following these declines in recipients and in unemployment, the proportion of officially unemployed workers receiving benefits was 50.6%. The EI program is still allowing about half of unemployed Canadians to fall through the cracks.

Also troubling in today’s report was that 1,300 more EI claims were filed in November than had been in October. For several months, falling claims appeared to confirm a slowing pace of layoffs. One hopes that November’s rise in claims will turn out to have been an aberration.

Beneath the national figures, there were some striking regional differences. While the number of EI claims filed in Ontario jumped by 6,600, it dropped by 4,200 in Quebec. Alberta had 1,200 more EI recipients and 1,000 more claims filed. These figures are not indicative of a labour-market recovery in Ontario or Alberta.

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