Clarifying EI usage

I want to clear up an important statistic.  People are now widely using the 110,000 figure to talk about the number of NBers who collect Employment Insurance each year.  That is the correct number but there are two points to keep in mind.  One, that includes everyone that received money from the EI program including maternity and paternity leave – although the number of folks under this part of the program would be limited – likely well below 10,000 – because we aren’t having that many new babies each year.

The bigger error is to use the 110,000 and the 350,000 in the same sentence.  In other words, people take the employment number from the labour force survey (in 2011 around 350,000) and they say that 110,000 of those collect EI.

That is incorrect.  The 350,000 is the average monthly employment during the year (i.e. when the surveyors call).  Over the course of the year, upwards of 480,000 New Brunswickers will earn some amount of employment income (including students) but given the high level of seasonal employment (hence the importance of the EI conversation), there is a big spread between those collecting employment income and the average monthly employment level.

So when I say that 32% of NBers outside of Moncton and Saint John collected EI in 2009, that is  a correct statement but in Moncton and Saint John it was close to the national average of around 17 % of all persons who collected employment income.

It’s important to talk apples to apples when looking at numbers.

3 thoughts on “Clarifying EI usage

  1. Thanks for clearing that up. When I read the article I was floored by the 11/35 ratio. 11/48 is better although still not that great.

  2. David,

    Wonder what your thoughts are on the proposed EI benefit changes coupled with Equalization payments being tied specifically to GDP growth. It seems to me like the EI changes could have unintended consequences on future payment calculations for the ‘have not’ provinces.

    Should the EI changes indeed lead to even greater migration of younger Atlantic Canadians to the West, will that not in effect create a double-whammy effect due to lower future GDP growth and thus lower equalization assistance? Does the federal government not see any potential correlation between the two that could lead to a downward spiral of Atlantic provinces ability to provide public services ‘reasonably equal’ to its diminishing, aging population? Finally, why wouldn’t the growing demographic disparity between regoions in Canada not be factored in to public services considering the active promotion of worker migration? I am of course, assuming that an older demographic of citizens will require a larger draw on public services.

    Appreciate your opinion.

  3. I wrote about this yesterday ( and I think your scenario is a real possibility over time. I think we need to carve off Newfoundland because they suffer from many of the demographic and rural economy challenges but they have a fiscal buffer that NB, NS and PE don’t have.

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