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Near-record number unemployed without E.I. benefits

Near-record number unemployed without E.I. benefits

Posted on: 10/24/2018 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team


Albertans are still feeling the remnants of the recession. For most employees who find themselves without work, Canada’s system of employment insurance (EI) provides some financial benefits. But those benefits have a timeline.

The blue line in the graph below shows the number of people in Alberta who are unemployed, and the orange line indicates the number of people receiving regular EI benefits. Both figures are adjusted for seasonality, and they follow a similar trend.

The gap between the two lines represents the number of Albertans who are without work, but not receiving employment benefits. There are a few reasons why one might not collect EI: they may not have applied for it, they may not qualify, or they may have quit their previous job. But a more common reason is that the number of weeks of eligible benefits has run out.

During the economic expansion of 2013 and early 2014, around 70,000-80,000 Albertans were unemployed without EI benefits. That gap soared to a record high of 133,000 in August of 2017. Since that time, the gap has not narrowed by much. In August of this year, the gap was still 115,000.

Unemployment vs. EI, graph​​

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