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Statistics Canada reports 671,200 people received regular Employment Insurance benefits, virtually unchanged from July.

The agency says the number of beneficiaries in July and August eased back to March levels, after rising slightly during the second quarter of the year.

But the number has fallen by 158,100 since peaking in June 2009.

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Meanwhile, the number of initial and renewal claims increased by 8,100 from July to 258,700.

The number of claims has been trending upward since March, increasing by an average of 5,700 a month.

The number of claims received increased in all provinces in August, except for Manitoba and Alberta, where there were slight declines.

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