Alberta experiences decrease of more than 62,000 EI recipients in early 2018
Published Thursday, April 19, 2018 10:04AM MDT Last Updated Thursday, April 19, 2018 6:21PM MDT
According to Statistics Canada, Alberta saw a significant decrease in employment insurance (EI) beneficiaries in February of this year, ending a four month trend of relatively stagnant recipient numbers.
In February 2018, there were 62,100 fewer EI recipients in Alberta than the month prior, a 1.9 per cent decrease.
From February 2017 to February 2018, Alberta experienced a 26.7 per cent decrease in EI beneficiaries as the province’s unemployment rate dropped from 8.2 per cent to 6.7 per cent.
Sharlene Massie, with About Staffing says the numbers are good news for the province.
"It make sense because they're getting jobs and they're negotiating pay and we haven't been able to do that for a long time. It was the other way; it was going down with wage rollbacks."
She says that the jobs are coming in from all around the province in every sort of industry.
"It's not just your typical construction pockets that come up this time of year when the sun shines, it's pockets of all kinds of roles including management, HSE, accounting. We've got all these unique jobs like mediator, mortgage broker and physiotherapist, all these really interesting roles that are coming in from everywhere, so it's fun."
Massie says that there has also been a change in the mindset of employers too.
"There aren't any employers that are saying 'yeah, I can wait for the right one', they are saying, 'no, I am ready to hire right now' which is also a big switch."
Ron Kneebone, professor of economics at the School of Public Policy, says that a drop in EI numbers can be a sign of good news or bad news.
"You come off of EI for two reasons; one is you got a job, which is the good news, or you reached the end of your benefits, which is the bad news."
He says that while EI has dropped, he is also seeing a shift of people going on social assistance.
"We've reported from the school before that social assistance caseloads are substantially higher than they were before this recession and they aren't coming down very quickly."
As for the long and short term in Alberta, Kneebone says there are too many variables to accurately predict how things will turn out.
"It depends on whether or not the pipelines get pushed through, it depends on what we're going to do in terms of climate change initiatives, it depends on what Donald Trump does in respect to trade policy. There are so many uncertainties which is a real problem for the economy."
Unfortunately, Massie also says that the rising economy also shows a slip back into bad habits in Alberta.
"We certainly didn't learn anything. The big energy companies, they know how to attract people and it's buckets of money and that's what they're doing again. They're coming in and stealing the people that are getting new jobs and are stealing from the small businesses and the entrepreneurs, so we're back in the cycle again, which is terrifying."
Across Canada, there were 480,200 EI recipients in February, the lowest level on record since 1997 when Statistics Canada began collecting EI data.