The number of Calgarians collecting Employment Insurance cheques skyrocketed by more than 95 per cent from September 2014 to the same month this year, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.
By comparison, many other provinces recorded only modest year-over-year increases and some saw the figures go down, the federal agency said in its September 2015 report released on Thursday.
Nationally, the EI rolls increased by 8.3 per cent, or 41,600 people from September 2014 to September 2015.
In Calgary, the number of EI recipients increased by 95.2 per cent over the same period, Statistics Canada says.
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And in Edmonton the number went up 85.7 per cent. Province-wide, the number of recipients went from 29,150 last September to 57,980 this September — a 98.9 per cent jump.
The numbers highlight how different the current downturn is from the one in 2008, says Justin Smith, the director of policy at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.
"What's particularly unnerving about this is the localized nature of the problem. It seems Calgary and Alberta have taken the brunt of this increase, which we didn't necessarily see in '08-'09," he said.
"So this is definitely a regional problem, this is a problem centred on our energy economy and it's something we need to look at critically to solve."
Smith says he expects Alberta's EI numbers to rise even more before they go down.
In Saskatchewan, reeling like Alberta from energy sector jobs losses, 30.1 per cent more people are collecting EI benefits.
Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia also recorded significant year-over-year increases, of 8.1 per cent and 11.8 per cent respectively.
But most other provinces saw either modest increases or modest declines.
In Ontario, 1.9 per cent more people are collecting EI benefits, while in British Columbia the number went down 4.4 per cent.
Continued oilpatch layoffs in Calgary seem to be showing up in the month-to-month figures.
The number of EI recipients in Calgary went up 7.7 per cent, from 17,400 in August to 18,740 in September. Edmonton saw a 5.3 per cent increase.
The biggest August-to-September increases by job category were:
- Trades, transport and equipment operations: up by 13.3 per cent.
- Business, finance and administrative occupations: up by 10.4 per cent.
Despite the swelling jobless rolls, there are indications the figure could soon come down.
The number of people in Canada filing an initial EI claim declined three per cent in September to 234,400. In Alberta, that figure is down 2.5 per cent.