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Statistics Canada reports 691,600 people received regular Employment Insurance benefits in June, up 8,400 from May and the third straight month of small increases.

Despite the recent gains, the number of beneficiaries has fallen by 137,700, or 16.6 per cent, since their peak in June, 2009.

The number of beneficiaries rose in nine provinces in June, with Ontario registering the only decline.

The most notable increases occurred in Quebec and New Brunswick.

The number of initial and renewal claims received in June edged up by 4,900 to 238,000 after small increases in April and May.

Claims have, however, been on a downward trend since their peak in May, 2009 - down 89,700, or 27.4 per cent, in fact.

The fastest rates of decline since last year's peak came in Ontario (down 38.2 per cent), Alberta (down 30.6) and British Columbia (down 23.4).