More youth are seeking EI amid rising unemployment rates: StatCan

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More young people have been receiving employment insurance (EI) amid rising unemployment rates, according to a new Statistics Canada report.

The data, released Thursday, showed that the number of youth aged 15 to 24 receiving the benefits increased this February for the fourth consecutive month, up 900 from the previous month.

In the year leading to February, the report says the unemployment rate among young people rose to 12 per cent for men (up 1.2 percentage points) and 11.1 per cent among young women (up 1.8 percentage points).

The findings come amid rising unemployment rates in Canada as the labour pool has quickly grown. StatCan previously reported that unemployment rates had jumped to 6.1 per cent in March. The rate was 5.8 per cent in February.

As Canada saw a rise in the number of jobseekers, employers collectively shed 2,200 jobs in March, according to StatCan.

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Youth aged 15-24 bore the brunt of the contraction, with 28,000 jobs lost in March. The unemployment rate among the demographic rose to 12.6 per cent, which was the highest since September 2016 outside of the 2020-21 pandemic years.

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The spike in March’s unemployment rate – a full percentage point higher than where it stood a year ago – is tied to an additional 60,000 people looking for work or on temporary layoff in March, StatCan said at the time.

In March, the agency reported that, as of Jan. 1, Canada’s annual population growth hit its fastest rate since 1957.

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StatCan said in its latest report that overall the number of Canadians receiving EI remained largely unchanged in February.

The only demographic to see a decrease in EI benefits were men between the ages of 25 and 54, which StatCan notes is the first significant decline since February 2023.

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The number of EI recipients stayed roughly the same for other demographics, including Canadians aged 55 and above.

“In general, variations in the number of EI beneficiaries can reflect changes in the circumstances 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,” the agency explained.

The number of beneficiaries also varied by region. StatCan says the number of people receiving EI in British Columbia fell by 2.9 per cent in February, while increasing by 1.0 per cent in Ontario. There was little change in other provinces, the agency says.

StatCan said earlier this month that March’s job losses were most concentrated in food and accommodation services, wholesale and retail trade, and professional, scientific and technical industries. These losses were offset by gains in health care and social assistance.

–with files from Global News’ Craig Lord

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