A record number of Canadians are collecting unemployment benefits. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data shows claims for regular employment insurance (EI) benefits in November. Unadjusted claims for the month came in at a record high for the data set. While it’s a historic surge, it was largely expected due to changes in the qualifying criteria.
Over 1.24 Million Canadians Collected Employment Insurance Benefits
The number of Canadians collecting regular benefits from employment insurance climbed sharply. There were 1.24 million unadjusted claims in November, up 6.7% from the month before. Compared to the same month last year, this number is 200.9% higher. This is a record high for at least the past 23 years, but likely goes back much further.
Canadian Employment Insurance Claims
The number of people collecting “regular” employment insurance (EI) benefits in Canada.Source: StatCan, Better Dwelling.
This Is The Second Highest Annual Rate of Growth
The sharp increase is also like nothing Canada has seen in recent history. The 200.9% annual increase in November, is the second largest going back to 1997. Only the 242.0% annual increase in October beat it. Prior to October, Canada hadn’t seen over a million claims since at least before 1997. The data isn’t readily available, but it likely goes back much further than that year.
The Sudden Surge Was Largely Expected
The rapid increase is due to a combination of things including the lockdown, and a change in benefits. In October, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) ended, and people transitioned to EI. EI also had its qualifying claim criteria broadened to be similar to CERB. A good portion of the surge in claims this past October was likely CERB claims transitioning. Although there was an unadjusted month over month climb, indicating there were new claims.
The historic increase of employment insurance claims is abrupt, but not totally surprising. The first surge in October was most likely due to the transition from CERB. The second climb in November can be attributed to the second round of pandemic lockdowns. These numbers are likely to fade this year, although it doesn’t mean people are employed once again.
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