BUSINESS

Alberta EI Payouts Soar 50%, But 'Worst Is Likely Behind Us' In Oil Price Crash

06/18/2015 03:39 EDT | Updated 06/18/2015 03:59 EDT
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The number of Albertans receiving employment insurance benefits jumped by nearly 50 per cent in the six months leading up to April, Statistics Canada says.

The agency’s latest report on EI found the number of people receiving benefits across Canada climbed for the fifth month in a row. It bottomed out in November of last year, at 495,480 beneficiaries, and climbed to 521,340 by April of this year.

Alberta accounted for about half the increase in EI payouts.

EI beneficiaries, 2010-2015

employment insurance payouts

Alberta had 43,900 people receiving EI benefits in April, a 10.7-per-cent increase from the month before and a 49.6-per-cent increase since October of last year, StatsCan said.

The numbers are a clear sign that the oil price collapse has thrown a wrench into the works of Alberta’s economy.

But lower oil prices are a positive for non-energy provinces. Ontario saw a 5.5-per-cent decline in EI beneficiaries in April, compared to a year earlier, while Quebec saw a 5.6-per-cent decline.

British Columbia registered a 2.4-per-cent increase in people receiving EI benefits, while in Saskatchewan the number rose 1.1 per cent.

EI payouts have fallen in Manitoba and all the Maritime provinces over the past year, except for Nova Scotia, where they’re up 3.9 per cent.

'Worst Is Behind Us'

Interestingly, although the evidence suggests that Alberta’s job market has weakened sharply over the past year, data from another StatsCan survey shows the province continues to be a popular destination for Canadians.

Alberta continues to have the highest inflow of interprovincial migrants in Canada. Along with B.C., it’s one of two provinces that are seeing a net increase in population due to Canadians coming from other provinces. Alberta’s population grew by 15,365 in the first quarter of 2015, of which 6,732 were people coming from other parts of the country. The rest were immigrants from abroad and live births.

In an economic outlook published Thursday, TD Bank said that though the oil price collapse damaged Canada’s economy, “the worst is likely behind us” thanks to a lower loonie boosting exports and a stronger U.S. economy.

But it noted that “employment and incomes are unlikely to benefit immediately” from stronger growth in the second half of this year, and therefore TD predicts the Bank of Canada won’t move on interest rates before the end of this year.

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