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The number of Canadians receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits dropped 187,000 (-12.7%) in September to 1.3 million. Ontario, Quebec and Alberta accounted for most of the national decrease.
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September EI statistics reflect labour market conditions during the week of September 12 to 18.
By mid-September, several provinces had introduced, or planned to introduce, proof-of-vaccination requirements to enter non-essential businesses such as restaurants, bars and gyms. Alberta reintroduced an alcohol service curfew at restaurants, pubs and bars beginning September 4. In addition, employers in the province were urged to pause return-to-work plans. On September 14, Nova Scotia postponed entering its final phase of reopening.
Fewer Canadians collect regular EI benefits in September
Approximately 1.3 million Canadians received regular EI benefits in September, down 187,000 (-12.7%) from a month earlier.
According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), employment rose by 157,000 in September, bringing employment back to the same level as February 2020, before the pandemic. Unemployment held steady in September at 1.4 million, including 1.3 million Canadians who were looking for work and 200,000 who had a connection to a job, because they were either on temporary layoff or had arrangements to begin a new job in the near future.
The decrease in regular EI beneficiaries concentrated in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta
The number of regular EI beneficiaries fell in seven provinces in September, led by Ontario (-98,000; -19.1%), Quebec (-40,000; -12.7%) and Alberta (-29,000; -16.2%). According to September LFS results, employment rose by 74,000 in Ontario, 31,000 in Quebec and 20,000 in Alberta.
In September, there were more regular EI beneficiaries in New Brunswick (+1,000; +1.5%), and little change in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, compared with August.
On a regional basis, the census metropolitan areas of Toronto (-54,000; -23.2%) and Montréal (-27,000; -18.0%) accounted for 43.5% of the monthly decrease in regular EI recipients.
EI recipients who last worked in sales and service occupations account for two-thirds of the monthly decline in regular EI beneficiaries
In September, the number of regular EI recipients declined in 9 of 10 broad occupational groups compared with August, with those who last worked in sales and service occupations (-124,000; -25.3%) accounting for two-thirds of the monthly decline. At the same time, more regular EI recipients last worked in occupations in education, law and social, community and government services (+22,000; +22.8%).
Just over half (52.4%) of regular EI recipients last worked in sales and service occupations or trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations in September.
More than 4 in 10 regular EI recipients last worked in one of four industries
In September, 43.5% of regular EI recipients last worked in one of four industries, including 11.8% in retail trade; 11.6% in accommodation and food services; 10.2% in construction; and 9.9% in manufacturing (not seasonally adjusted). In September, the share of regular EI recipients who last worked in accommodation and food services was 6.0 percentage points higher (not seasonally adjusted) compared with September 2019. September LFS results showed that employment in these same four industries was 339,000 below pre-COVID February 2020 levels.
Bigger drop in regular EI beneficiaries among core-aged women than core-aged men
In September, the number of core-aged (25 to 54 years) women receiving regular EI benefits fell by 89,000 (-21.1%), a decrease almost 1.5 times larger than that among core-aged men (-63,000; -13.8%). September LFS results showed that employment rose by 86,000 among core-aged women and by 57,000 among core-aged men.
Women aged 55 years and older (+38,000; +24.4%) was the lone demographic group with more regular EI recipients in September compared with August. According to September LFS results, employment among older women (-2.2%) and young men aged 15 to 24 years (-2.2%) was further below February 2020 levels than all other demographic groups.
Long-term unemployment reflected in regular EI benefits
The September LFS showed that 27.3% of all unemployed had been continuously out of work for 27 weeks or more, compared with 15.6% before the pandemic in February 2020. This elevated level of long-term unemployment is reflected in regular EI data.
In September, more than two-thirds (69.0%) of EI recipients had received regular EI benefits or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in at least 7 of the last 12 months, up from 16.1% in February 2020 (not seasonally adjusted). Over two-thirds of women (69.2%) and men (68.8%) received regular EI benefits or CERB in at least 7 of the last 12 months. Among longer-term regular EI recipients, over half (56.6%) were core-aged (aged 25 to 54 years), similar to the share of this age group among the long-term unemployed as measured by the LFS. By province, the proportion of EI recipients who had received regular EI benefits or CERB in at least 7 of the last 12 months ranged from 64.8% in Nova Scotia to 71.4% in Ontario.