(Stock photo: Thinkstock) 38,750 people received E.I. benefits in March, a 24.7 per cent hike from the year before.The number of people receiving benefits is not nearly as high as it was during the 2009 downturn. Summary E.I. numbers rising in Alberta by Kaitlin Lee Posted May 21, 2015 11:09 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email In the midst of an oil slump, Alberta saw a significant increase in those accepting Employment Insurance in March.In that month, 38,750 people received E.I. benefits: a 24.7 per cent hike from the year before.Calgary also saw its first year over year increase since 2010, with the number of beneficiaries increasing by 2,620 people.While the numbers seem grim, one expert is preaching calm.Todd Hirsch, chief economist with ATB Financial, says layoffs are upsetting but this is a normal part of the cycle in Alberta.“By all indications, 2015 is going to be a soft year. We’re probably going to see more strain on the labour market, but I would call this a garden variety downturn — nothing like the epic proportions that we saw in the 80s, or even in 2009, which was a steeper correction,” he said.Six years ago, there were months when over 70,000 Albertans collecting employment insurance.