indicatorThe Owl

Employment Insurance beneficiaries remain high

The number of Albertans on EI in July 2021 was 244% (131,300) higher than in February 2020

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 24 September 2021 1 min read

The number of Albertans receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits fell for the second month in a row in July.

There were 188,700 Albertans collecting EI in June compared to 185,120 in July—a drop of 1.9%. The number of EI beneficiaries in Alberta peaked in October 2020 at 207,160.

Despite the downward trend, the number of Albertans on EI in July 2021 was 244% (131,300) higher than in February 2020.

An increase in the number of unemployed Albertans during the pandemic explains part of the rise in EI beneficiaries, but temporary changes to the program’s eligibility requirements made last fall are the main factor.

When the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) ended in September 2020, people out of work because of the pandemic were switched over to an easier-to-access EI program.

As a result, the proportion of unemployed Albertans collecting EI benefits went from about 30% before the pandemic to 89% as of July 2021. The overlap peaked at 93% in May 2021. The previous high was 50% in October 2016 during the recession of 2015-16.

According to the Service Canada website, the temporary changes to EI are in effect until September 2021.

Answer to the previous trivia question: About 60 CFL football fields would fit inside West Edmonton Mall.

Today’s trivia question: Are CERB and EI payments taxable?

The proportion of unemployed Albertans collecting EI benefits went from about 30% before the pandemic to 89% as of July 2021

The proportion of unemployed Albertans collecting EI benefits went from about 30% before the pandemic to 89% as of July 2021


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