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For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

December 18, 2018

In October 2018, the number (seasonally adjusted) of Nova Scotians receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits increased by 220 (0.8 per cent) from the previous month to 27,190 and decreased by 650 persons (-2.3 per cent) from October 2017.

Following an increase through much of 2016, the number of EI beneficiaries in Nova Scotia declined until the middle of 2017, and remained flat through the rest of the year. The number of beneficiaries gradually declined in early 2018 but has leveled off somewhat in recent months. 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 2018 decreased 1.5 per cent (6,480 persons) to 439,600. The number of regular EI beneficiaries decreased by 70,650 (-13.8 per cent) from October 2017. 

In year-to-date terms, Nova Scotia's number of regular EI beneficiaries decreased 4.4 per cent over the same time period last year. In January to October 2018, all provinces showed declines in the number of regular beneficiaries, with the largest decline in Alberta (-26.0%). The smallest decline was in Manitoba (-1.2 per cent). Nationally, there were 13.6 per cent fewer beneficiaries compared to the same period last year. 



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 monthly results, the number of beneficiaries aged 25-54 was up by 40 persons, month to month.  The number of beneficiaries aged 55 and older was level with last month at 7,670 persons, while the number of beneficiaries aged 15-24 was up 170 persons compared to the previous month.

Measured as a share of the labour force, EI usage is more prevalent among older workers (6.8 per cent) than it is among youth (4.9 per cent) or core aged workers (5.1 per cent).


The number (seasonally adjusted) of Nova Scotians receiving regular EI benefits in October 2018 accounted for 5.5 per cent of the total labour force. In Canada, the number of EI beneficiaries accounted for 2.2 per cent of the total labour force.

In Nova Scotia, EI beneficiaries accounted for 71.4 per cent of the unemployed, compared to a Canadian rate of 38.5 per cent. Across the country, EI beneficiaries accounted for the highest shares of the unemployed in the Atlantic provinces, led by Prince Edward Island. EI beneficiaries accounted for the lowest shares of the unemployed in Alberta and Ontario.

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.


In year to date terms (January-October 2018 compared to the same period a year ago), average EI usage (regular beneficiaries, unadjusted) was up in Inverness, Richmond, Cape Breton and Victoria counties. Decreases were seen in all other counties, with the largest decline in percentage terms in Cumberland (-18.6 per cent).


Nova Scotia's EI usage by occupation (unadjusted) is highest among trades/transport/equipment operators (8,600 in October), followed by sales and service occupations, natural resources, and manufacturing occupations. 

In year to date terms, usage is up (in percentage terms) in Health occupations (+8.7 per cent), and in unclassified occupations.

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 data portal: 14-10-0011-01 (Age, Province),  14-010-0337-01 (Occupation), 11-10-0014-01 (County level)

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