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Nick Ford • Economist April 23, 2015
Employment Insurance numbers reflect oil's price fall
The results of the last Labour Force Survey signaled that Alberta’s economy is starting to soften. Today’s release on Employment Insurance (EI) reconfirms that our economy is indeed labouring. The number of Albertans collecting regular EI benefits rose up to 35,950 in February, nearly a 16 per cent increase from January and the largest increase since May 2009. Over the course of the year, EI claims rose by 20 per cent in our province, a sign that oil’s price plunge is truly impacting workers across Alberta.
As expected, the largest increase in beneficiaries was among those who last worked in occupations unique to primary industries, such as oil and gas extraction (+51.8 per cent). Claimants in processing, manufacturing and utilities (+29.1 per cent) as well as natural and applied sciences (+28.8 per cent) grew significantly too. Alberta’s two major cities, Edmonton (+12.3 per cent) and Calgary (+11.8 per cent) both saw significant increases in the amount of EI beneficiaries in February as well.
Nationally, the number of people collecting benefits in November totalled 509,780, a slight increase from the previous month. And, compared with 12-months earlier, the number of beneficiaries decreased by nearly 3,500 people. Statistics Canada reports that fewer people received benefits in most of the major occupation groups.
With the amount of layoffs and cuts to spending plans, today’s report shouldn’t come as a surprise. Given the economic slowdown, a rising number of people collecting EI was to be expected. However, with oil prices showing some stability and promise for the second half of 2015, Alberta’s labour market should show some rebound.