Alberta has been particularly hard-hit by recession-fed job losses, with young people and unemployed men claiming federal Employment Insurance benefits in near record numbers, Statistics Canada said Tuesday.
In a report, the federal agency says EI claims in Alberta more than tripled from 15,900 to 57,350 between May 2008 and May 2009. Percentage-wise, Alberta has seen the most dramatic rise in EI claims in the past year of any province.
Most of the accompanying steep rise in the number of regular EI beneficiaries has occurred since the labour market began to deteriorate last fall. Between October and May, the number of people receiving EI in Alberta rose by 38,800, giving the province its highest number of EI recipients since 1997. At the same time, the provincial unemployment rate grew from 3.7 per cent to 6.6 per cent.
In one month alone, from April to May this year, EI claims grew by a whopping 16.8 per cent, Statistics Canada said.
While Alberta's overall unemployment rate was below the national rate of 8.4 per cent in May, the number of people receiving regular EI benefits shot up in virtually all of the province's large centres from May 2008 to May 2009. In that time, the number of beneficiaries in Calgary increased from 4,100 to 18,200, and in Edmonton, from 4,300 to 16,000.
Young Albertans under age 25 appear to be the hardest hit by the job-market downturn. The number of EI claimants in that age group has risen almost 450 per cent in the 12 months from May 2008.
And men appear to be losing their jobs more frequently than women. Year-over-year from May 2008, the number of male EI claimants in Alberta rose 318 per cent, compared with a 166 per cent rise in claims by women.