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For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

Barbara Ruszel Economist
Tel: 902-424-1848Email:

December 19, 2017

In October 2017, the number (seasonally adjusted) of Nova Scotians receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits increased by 110 persons (0.4 per cent) from the previous month to 27,820 and decreased by 990 persons (-3.4 per cent) from October 2016. 

Following an increase through much of 2016, the number of EI beneficiaries in Nova Scotia declined until the middle of 2017 and has been relatively flat since. Looking at the longer-term trends, the number of beneficiaries has been relatively stable since 2015 after reaching historic lows in 2014.

The number (seasonally adjusted) of Canadians receiving regular EI benefits in October 2017 decreased 0.1 per cent (430 persons) from the previous month to 510,020. The number of regular EI beneficiaries decreased by 71,430 (-12.3 per cent) from October 2016. 


The bulk of EI beneficiaries in Nova Scotia are aged 25 to 54, who also account for the largest share of the labour force.  In the October results (seasonally adjusted), the number of beneficiaries aged 25-54 was down 90 while the number of beneficiaries aged 55 and older was down 100.  The number of beneficiaries aged 15-24 was up 80 in October.

Measured as a share of the labour force, EI usage is more prevalent among older workers (6.7 per cent) than it is among youth (4.6 per cent) or core aged workers (5.5 per cent).


Through October 2017, average EI usage (unadjusted) was up in all counties except for Cape Breton, Pictou, Hants, Kings and Digby


Nova Scotia's EI usage by occupation (unadjusted) is highest among trades/transport/equipment operators, but the year-to-date average usage is down for this sector when compared with the first ten months of 2016.  Average YTD usage is up for the next three largest occupational categories: sales and service, natural resources/agriculture and manufacturing/utilities.  Usage is also up in management, education/law/social/community/government occupations as well as in health care.  Proportionally, the largest rise in EI usage is in occupations related to art/culture/recreation/sport, though this is a relatively small share of overall EI usage.  Usage is down (marginally) in natural/applied sciences and business/finance/administration.


Across the country, EI usage is down 4.8 per cent comparing the results (seasonally adjusted) averaged from January-October of 2017 with the same months of 2016.  The largest declines in EI usage were reported in Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia.  Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba reported higher EI usage than in the first ten months of 2016.  Nova Scotia's EI usage is up 0.5 per cent.



The number (seasonally adjusted) of Nova Scotians receiving regular EI benefits in October 2017 accounted for 5.7 per cent of the total labour force. In Canada, the number of EI beneficiaries accounted for 2.6 per cent of the total labour force.

In Nova Scotia, EI beneficiaries accounted for 65.3 per cent of the unemployed, compared to a Canadian rate of 41.3 per cent. Across the country, EI beneficiaries accounted for the highest shares of the unemployed in the Atlantic provinces, led by New Brunswick, followed by Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. EI beneficiaries accounted for the lowest shares of the unemployed in Ontario, followed by Alberta and British Columbia.

Note that due to differences in estimation methodology, it is possible for the reported number of EI beneficiaries to exceed the reported number of unemployed in a given jurisdiction.

Legislative changes to the EI program came into effect in July 2016. While some of these changes affected all EI regions across Canada, eligible claimants in the 15 regions that posted notable increases in unemployment received additional weeks of regular benefits starting in July. More information on the 2016 EI changes is available on Employment and Social Development Canada's (ESDC) website. As a result of the changes to the EI program, historical comparisons are not recommended, except in areas outside of the 15 EI regions where eligible claimants received additional weeks of benefits. These 15 EI regions are Newfoundland and Labrador, Northern Ontario, Sudbury, Northern Manitoba, Southern Saskatchewan, Northern Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Southern Alberta, Northern Alberta, Calgary, Edmonton, Southern Interior British Columbia, Northern British Columbia, Whitehorse and Nunavut.

Statistics Canada CANSIM 276-0022 (Age, Province), 276-0043 (Occupation), 276-0035 (County level)

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