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Number of Employment Insurance recipients holding steady

Number of Employment Insurance recipients holding steady

Posted on: 2/21/2018 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

​​Employment Insurance (EI) statistics are a tricky economic indicator because they are sensitive to the parameters of the EI program as well as the ups and downs of the economy. For example, EI statistics do not capture new entrants into the labour force who cannot find work but – because they were not working previously – do not qualify for EI. The statistics also miss those who leave EI because their benefits run out rather than because they find a job.

We also need to keep in mind that most unemployed Albertans do not receive EI. As of December of last year, only 36 per cent of unemployed Albertans were receiving regular EI benefits.

With these caveats in mind, it is still generally better to see the number of EI recipients going down rather than up.

As the chart below shows, the number of Albertans receiving regular EI benefits has been on a downward trend since the end of 2016 and is well below the peak reached in July of that year. At the same time, the level of EI recipients remains about double what it was in 2014 before the downturn and has stayed at roughly 63,000 since September of last year.

So while things are heading in the right direction in the province regarding economic growth, job creation and the number of Albertan’s relying on EI payments, things are not “back to normal” for the many Albertans who remain out of work.

Employment Insurance, Alberta, graph​​

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