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Dozens line up to register for the The National Job Fair & Training Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 2012.J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

Statistics Canada says the number of people receiving regular employment insurance benefits continued to trend down for a fifth consecutive month in March.

It says the number of recipients declined by 1.0 per cent or 5,200 people, to 523,700.

The number of beneficiaries was down 8.1 per cent compared with a year earlier.

All four Western provinces as well as Newfoundland and Labrador reported fewer beneficiaries in March, while there was little change in the other provinces.

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 beneficiaries.

The number of initial and renewal claims rose by 6,800 or 3.0 per cent to 230,700 in March, partly offsetting a decline observed the previous month.