The number of New Brunswickers receiving employment insurance jumped by 4.9 per cent in July, the largest increase in the country from the previous month, according to figures released by Statistics Canada on Thursday.
There were 29,400 regular EI beneficiaries in the province, up from 28,040 in June, bucking a downward trend since January.
The Saint John area saw the biggest jump among all the census metropolitan areas (CMA) in Canada, rising 16.2 per cent to 2.650, said Valerie Gagnon, a labour market analyst with Statistics Canada.
"Because it is a small area, we can't really say … what occupation or what age group there kind of drove that change," she said. "That is something that we'll have to keep an eye on."
There were increases across the province, said Gagnon, including the Moncton CMA, which rose 3.1 per cent to 2,630, and areas outside of the CMAs and census agglomeration, which increased 4.5 per cent to 18,060.
The previously released Labour Force Survey for July showed the unemployment rate in New Brunswick increased 0.7 percentage points to 8.5 per cent with the loss of 7,300 full-time jobs.
"It's also worth noting that while New Brunswick did see an increase in the number of regular EI beneficiaries, there was actually a decrease in the amount of claims in New Brunswick," at –2.1 per cent, said Gagnon.
New Brunswick was the only province with a decrease in the number of claims, she said.
The claims data includes initial and renewal claims for all types of EI, including special benefits, whereas the number of beneficiaries is related to job loss and does not include special benefits.
Year over year, there was a 4.1 per cent increase in the number of EI beneficiaries in the province. That was driven by more recipients aged 55 and over, which increased 10.2 per cent, said Gagnon.
The unemployment rate for that age group increased 1.8 percentage points to 9.5 per cent over the same period.
Quebec was the only province that saw a decrease in EI recipients in July. Its number fell by 1.3 per cent to 108,090.
Six other provinces saw increases, including Alberta, which ranked second behind New Brunswick, up 3.6 per cent to 50,400.
Across Canada, 450,600 people received EI in July, an increase of 1.1 per cent from June.