The number of people in Alberta receiving Employment Insurance benefits continues to fall.
A report released on Thursday by Statistics Canada said 52,300 people received EI benefits in Alberta in August, down 3.7 per cent from July and continuing the downward trend that began in the fall of 2016.
“In August, the number of beneficiaries decreased the most in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Edmonton, falling by 5.0 per cent to 19,600. In the 12 months to August, Alberta continued to have the fastest year-over-year decline among the provinces, with the number of recipients down 23.0 per cent. Data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) report that the unemployment rate for the province fell from 8.1 per cent to 6.7 per cent over this period.”
The federal agency said there were 600 fewer people in Calgary on EI in August (-3.4 per cent) compared to July and 6,430 fewer year-over-year (-27.6 per cent).
In Edmonton, the month-over-month decline was 1,030 and year over year it was 4,090 (-17.3 per cent).
Across Alberta, EI beneficiaries were down by 3.7 per cent month over month or by 2,020 and by 15,610 year over year.
StatsCan said 464,700 people received regular EI benefits in August, down 7,400 (-1.6 per cent) from the previous month. The number of beneficiaries fell in the majority of provinces, with the largest percentage declines in Prince Edward Island (-4.5 per cent), Alberta (-3.7 per cent), Quebec (-2.6 per cent), Newfoundland and Labrador (-2.5 per cent), Manitoba (-2.2 per cent) and Nova Scotia (-1.3 per cent). There was little change in Ontario.
Compared with August 2017, the number of EI recipients in Canada declined by 61,900 (-11.8 per cent).
“In general, variations in the number of beneficiaries can reflect changes in the circumstances of a number of different groups, including those becoming beneficiaries, those going back to work, those exhausting their regular benefits, and those no longer receiving benefits for other reasons,” said the federal agency.
It said there were 239,100 claims in August, down 1.8 per cent from July. The number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become beneficiaries.
“Prince Edward Island (-11.1 per cent) and Alberta (-7.9 per cent) recorded the largest percentage declines, followed by Quebec (-3.6 per cent), Saskatchewan (-3.4 per cent) and Manitoba (-2.3 per cent). In contrast, there were more claims in Nova Scotia (+2.4 per cent) and Ontario (+1.2 per cent). There was little change in the other provinces. In the 12 months to August, the number of claims increased by 3.0 per cent at the national level,” added StatsCan.
Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald, including 12 years as a senior business writer.