09/20/2012 09:07 EDT | Updated 11/20/2012 05:12 EST

Number of EI recipients unchanged in July, down from a year earlier: StatsCan

OTTAWA - Statistics Canada says 508,000 people were getting regular employment insurance benefits in July, virtually unchanged from the previous month and down 34,900 or 6.4 per cent from July 2011.

The agency says the number of beneficiaries increased in Alberta and Ontario, fell in Prince Edward Island and Quebec and was relatively unchanged elsewhere.

To receive EI benefits, individuals must first submit a claim and the number of claims provides an indication of the number of people who could become eligible for benefits.

Nationally, the number of initial and renewal claims was little changed at 232,400 in July, following an increase in June.

Provincially, claims rose by 8.9 per cent in Saskatchewan, 8.3 per cent in Ontario and 3.1 per cent in Alberta.

Claims fell by 6.6 per cent in New Brunswick, 4.4 per cent in Quebec and three per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador.