South of the Fraser

Surrey, Delta, White Rock and Langleys

EI beneficiaries south of the Fraser: a comparison

Quick, if you had to guess, where do most people on Employment Insurance in B.C. live?

The red bars below show the top five cities in B.C. with the most number of people on EI. On all the graphs in this article, hover your cursor over an area of interest for more information.


Of course, the question isn't fair. Obviously, cities with more people will have more people unemployed and on EI. Surrey is the second-largest city in B.C., so it makes sense it will be in the top five. That's why Stats B.C. measures the number of people on Employment Insurance as a percentage of the total population. Look at the blue bars in the graph above for that ratio.

Stats B.C. has recently released "Employment Beneficiaries by RD Receiving Regular Benefits by Regional District", a series of worksheets of data with a year's worth of data, ending in May 2012. The amount of information in this workbook in impressive. It tallies recipients' age group, sex and municipality, as well as region. If you enjoy poring over tables of data this is the spreadsheet for you.


How do the communities South of the Fraser River compare to the rest of the GVRD?

I've pulled out municipalities within the GVRD for a few comparisons. South of the Fraser here includes Delta, Surrey, White Rock, the Township of Langley and the City of Langley. North of the Fraser is Burnaby, New Westminster and Coquitlam. Vancouver and Richmond are by themselves.


To save space I've again combined two sets of data: the actual numbers of people on EI per area, and their percentage as the total population. Caution: while there may be some use of comparing the size of the blue and red bars keep in mind they are measuring different things. Our brains create a connection when items are next to each other like that.

Another word of caution: looking at this graph you could think that South of the Fraser is an area of ne'er do wells and unemployables. That would be uncharitable and unfair. Don't forget as well that these aren't unemployment numbers, or people not looking for work -- these are people who have paid into EI and are going through the process of collecting.

How can we correct for possible misperceptions? Let's start by looking at how many people live in each area:


And, what are the percentages of EI recipients in these areas?


These last two graphs show the regions more equal in the percentage of the population that are receiving EI benefits. However (let's face facts) South of the Fraser is stiller higher than other areas in the GVRD.


A closer look at cities South of the Fraser

After that demonstration of lyin' cheatin' and misleadin' statistics, let's start with a population percentage graph of the municipalities South of the Fraser River:


From this we should expect to see far more EI recipients in Surrey than in White Rock. That is, indeed, the case:


Once again, I've combined the number of people with the municipality's percentage. I've included Vancouver for comparison.

One more graph: different age groups of EI recipients, per municipality, South of the Fraser River, with Vancouver again:


Here notice that 15-24 year olds differ only by .6% between all municipalities shown, while 55+  goes from .5% (White Rock) to 1.5% (Surrey). The main bulk of working-age people (25-54) doesn't vary that much. It goes from 1.1% (Township of Langley) to 2% (Surrey). My working hypothesis is there are more retirees as a percentage of the population in White Rock than Surrey, thus lowering the percentage of people 55+ who are collecting EI.



Unfortunately, there's some truth to the perception of there being more people on EI in Surrey. The upside is that it's not a huge difference from other areas in the Lower Mainland if we look at it as a percentage of the total population.



Appendix: the small print

Stats B.C. has some small print on this chart that's well worth reading. Here are a few notes:

  • Beneficiaries are unemployed persons receiving benefits from the Employment Insurance (EI) program. The monthly number of beneficiaries shown includes all claimants who received benefits for the Labour Force Survey reference week, usually containing the 15th day of the month. Not all unemployed people receive benefits. Some are not covered by the system, are ineligible for benefits, do not make a claim, or have exhausted their benefit entitlement. Rates are calculated as a percent of the same age population. The number of employment insurance beneficiaries for all geographies are calculated using 3-month moving averages, which takes the average of beneficiaries from the current month and the previous two months. For example, the number of beneficiaries for May is calculated by averaging the number of beneficiaries from March to May.                                                                                                                                                                     
  • The last two months of data are preliminary and subject to revisions since they come from an administrative data set.                                                                                                        
  • Regional Districts and Census Subdivisions (referred to as Municipalities) are reported as they existed for the 2001 Census using a custom Census Subdivisions data file from Statistics Canada. Beneficiary data by age (15 to 24, 25 to 54, 55+) and gender for Regional Districts and by gender for Municipalities are aggregated from this file. Data in this file is rounded to the nearest ten (values less than 5 rounded to 0); thus, the sum of beneficiaries from all age/gender groups may not add up to the total for a region. The totals for Regional Districts are sourced from CANSIM Table 276-0006, while the totals for B.C. are sourced from CANSIM Table 276-0001.                                                                                                                 
  • Beneficiary data by Local Health Areas (LHA) are geo-translated from 2001 Census Subdivisions. Because beneficiary data by LHA are geo-translated (i.e., estimated), the sum of beneficiaries from all age/gender groups may not add up to the total. It is important to note that while the majority of the translations are one to one in nature (360 of 392 for Census Subdivisions to Local Health Areas), there are some that are based on the proportion of population (aged 0+) living  in each region in 2001. This proportional allocation is necessary because the administrative boundaries do not directly correspond with Census Subdivisions. The geo-translation assumes that employment insurance beneficiaries are distributed according to the Census population within a region. However, as communities often border administrative regions, there are cases where two or more regions may interact with each other. This can happen because the proportional translation is allocating either too many or too few beneficiaries to one or more regions and the balance are allocated to the remaining regions involved in the translation. Thus, when looking at larger than expected changes in the proportion of population receiving employment insurance benefits, it is important to look at the neighbouring regions.                                                        
  • Another important consideration is that a portion of beneficiaries are not classified to a Census Subdivision because address information is unavailable. As a result, the total for each geography will always be less than the B.C. total. As well, unless beneficiaries are concentrated in particular CSDs, as the total number of beneficiaries in the province decreases the percentage difference between the total and the sum will increase because more cells will be suppressed.                                                        
  • BC Stats population estimates as of July 1st each year are used for population denominators. When revisions are made to population estimates, the population denominators used in these reports are revised. Likewise, data for the current year uses the previous year's population estimate until the next release of population estimates. Since population estimates for municipalities are only produced for the total population, the age distribution from the 2011 Census is applied to the municipal estimates for 2011 and later years to estimate the number of persons in each age category, while the 2006 Census is used for prior years.                                                      


Info on South of the Fraser River: Surrey, Delta, White Rock, City of Langley, Township of Langley, Fort Langley. Maybe a bit of Abbotsford, just for fun.

This site is experimental. See About (top right) for more, or Blog for meta-information. The working goal is to create an almanac of items, tidbits of information and methods of gathering information.

Right now the site is biased to just south of the Fraser River, within the northern reaches of great City of Surrey, but there is some foraging further afield.

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