Mario ToneguzziThe number of Employment Insurance beneficiaries in Alberta increased by 2.1 per cent to 55,360 in July, according to Statistics Canada.

“Increases were mostly among those whose last job was in occupations related to education, as well as trades, transport and equipment operators,” said the federal agency on Thursday. “Growth in the number of beneficiaries was concentrated in the CMA of Edmonton (+4.3 per cent), while the number was little changed in Calgary. On a year-over-year basis, the number of EI recipients declined by 22.2 per cent.”

Year over year in the province, the decline was by 15,800 people. On a monthly basis, though, the number was up by 1,160 from June.

In the Calgary census metropolitan area, the total number of people receiving regular benefits was 17,690 in July, down by 40 from June and off by 6,650 from July 2017.

In the Edmonton census metropolitan area, the total number of people receiving regular benefits was 21,360 in July, up 890 from June but down 3,550 from a year ago.

StatsCan said 475,700 people received regular benefits in Canada in July, an increase of 11,000 or 2.4 per cent from June. The increase mainly reflected a reduction in the waiting period to receive EI benefits from two weeks to one week, which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, and disproportionally affected occupations related to education in July 2017 and July 2018, it said.

The federal agency said the number of beneficiaries rose in Manitoba (+18.2 per cent), Quebec (+4.5 per cent), Prince Edward Island (+4.0 per cent), New Brunswick (+2.3 per cent), British Columbia (+2.2 per cent) and Alberta (+2.1 per cent). The number fell slightly in Saskatchewan (-1.3 per cent) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-1.0 per cent), while it was little changed in Nova Scotia and Ontario.

“Compared with July 2017, the number of EI recipients in Canada declined by 61,200 (-11.4 per cent). The number has been declining on a year-over-year basis since May 2017,” it said.

“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.”

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.

Employment Insurance

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