The number of New Brunswick residents claiming employment insurance benefits grew by 4.2 per cent between December and January, the largest jump in the country, according to Statistics Canada.

The latest figures, released on Thursday, showed 33,200 New Brunswickers were collecting EI benefits at the start of 2016, up from 31,860 in December.

Statistics Canada said the number people tapping into those EI benefits jumped by 6.1 per cent in Saint John and 3.1 per cent in Moncton.

"Most of the increase in the province was from areas outside of census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations," the agency said.

This is the latest piece of dismal economic news for the province.

New Brunswick's unemployment rate in February jumped to 9.9 per cent as 5,700 jobs evaporated in that month.

The unemployment rate for people between the ages of 15 and 24 in the province hit 17.1 per cent, well above the national average of 13.6 per cent. New Brunswick had the highest youth unemployment rate in Canada in February.

While New Brunswick had the largest growth of EI claimants between December and January, it also experienced a 3.5 per cent growth in the past year.

Even though the province saw more people added to the EI rolls in the last year, it pales in comparison to Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan saw a 40.9 per cent spike in EI claimants and Alberta witnessed a 91 per cent growth in their EI rolls in the last year.