The number of people collecting employment insurance is down across Nova Scotia, Statistics Canada reported Thursday.
The province had seven per cent fewer employment insurance recipients in April compared with the same month last year, according to the federal agency’s latest figures.
All five large centres in Nova Scotia had fewer beneficiaries in the 12 months to April.
Halifax saw the biggest decline, with the number of people cashing in an employment insurance cheque down by 5,000, or 16.4 per cent, continuing a two-year downward trend.
The number of people collecting employment insurance also fell 14.3 per cent in Kentville, 9.7 per cent in Truro, 3.9 per cent in New Glasgow and 0.7 per cent in Cape Breton.
In all, the province had 30,060 people receiving regular employment insurance benefits in April, down 2,260 from a year ago.
The figures seem strong considering the province’s labour force — the total number of people working or looking for work — grew during the same time period.
Nova Scotia’s labour force was 499,200 in April, a 1.4 per cent increase compared with a year before when 492,700 people were in the province’s labour force.
Charles Cirtwill, president and chief executive officer of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, said the trend appears to be going in the right direction with more people entering the workforce than seeking assistance.
Cirtwill said despite the blanket regional statements from Ottawa about employment insurance dependence in Atlantic Canada, the latest statistics suggest the jobs market is more nuanced.
“The problem is (the federal government) talks about employment insurance as if it’s the same across the region and it’s just not the case. Our urban centres have always done better than the region as a whole.”
In fact, Cirtwill said the strong job numbers in Atlantic Canada’s larger centres rival those in other big cities across the country.
However, the stronger employment streak may have reached its zenith as the number of jobless claims appears to be on the rise.
Claims increased five per cent in Nova Scotia in April compared with the same month last year.
When compared with March, the increase was slightly sharper at 7.4 per cent.
The total number of claims for employment insurance hit 10,620 in April, up 510 from a year ago.
The higher number of claims reflects the province’s unemployment rate, which surged in May to 9.2 per cent, the highest level since July 2009 and the third month in a row the rate has worsened.
The jobless rate remained stuck above the national average, which stayed steady at 7.3 per cent in May after two months of strong gains.