BUSINESS

EI Payouts On The Rise In Canada, Out Of Control In Alberta

09/17/2015 12:16 EDT | Updated 09/17/2015 12:59 EDT
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Job seekers wait in line to meet with representatives during a weekly job fair event in Dallas, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits rose more than forecast to an eight-week high, representing a pause in a trend of more muted firings. Photographer: Laura Buckman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The number of Canadians on Employment Insurance rose for the eighth straight month in July, Statistics Canada reported Thursday.

It's a sign that Canada’s labour market continued to struggle into the third quarter of this year, despite signs of a bounce-back in some parts of the economy at the start of the quarter.

Surprisingly, oil provinces didn’t lead the way — Ontario and British Columbia did. Both those provinces registered a substantial jump in EI beneficiaries, up 3.9 per cent in Ontario and 3.6 per cent in B.C. in one month.

But that’s just this month. Compared to a year ago, EI beneficiaries are up by more than 60 per cent in Calgary and Edmonton, and up by 72 per cent in the province of Alberta overall. Saskatchewan’s major cities have seen double-digit increases as well.

Here’s a breakdown of EI payroll change by city. (Just to be clear: Negative numbers are good and positive numbers are bad.)

Some of Ontario’s “rust belt” cities — Hamilton, London and St. Catharines among them — have seen considerable drops in EI payrolls. That’s a sign of a manufacturing turnaround in southern Ontario (at least in the short term), thanks to a lower loonie that has made Canadian exports more competitive.

There were 545,200 people on the EI rolls in July, the highest number since November, 2012, and a 7.1-per-cent increase from the same month a year ago.

Canada’s EI rolls shrank for years following the Great Recession, but with oil prices tanking, that all ended last December, and EI rolls have been growing since.

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