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Labour market conditions remain tight, with the number of employment insurance (EI) beneficiaries hitting record lows in March, Statistics Canada reports.

The number of EI recipients declined a bit from February to 388,000 — the lowest total on record and down 26.7% from the same month last year, the national statistical agency reported.

The share of unemployed workers deemed “long-term unemployed” was also down year over year to 16.0% from 20.3% in March 2022.

The jobless rate remained near a record low of 5.0%, StatsCan said.

The decrease in EI recipients was led by core-aged (25 to 54) men, down by 3,600 from February, followed closely by older workers (aged over 55), down 3,500 from the previous month.

This was partly offset by an increase in the number of women collecting benefits, up by 5,900 from February.

The number of regular EI recipients in Ontario edged up in March, which was the third consecutive monthly increase in the province, StatsCan said.

However, on a year-over-year basis, the number of beneficiaries in Ontario was still down by 22.9% — less than the national rate but still a substantial decline.

In March the number of workers getting EI benefits was down in five provinces, led by Alberta (offsetting the increase in Ontario), followed by Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.