The number of Canadians receiving Employment Insurance benefits has declined by almost 38,000 people in the 12 months up until June, Statistics Canada reported Thursday.

Across the country, 517,200 people were receiving jobless benefits in June. That figure fell by 7,000 from May's level and has now fallen for eight months in a row. The only province where the EI rolls got bigger in June was Newfoundland and Labrador.

But a decline in EI beneficiaries doesn't necessarily mean more people were working. "Changes in the number of beneficiaries can reflect a number of different circumstances, including people becoming beneficiaries, those going back to work, and those no longer receiving regular benefits," Statistics Canada said.

Looking at occupations, six out of 10 broad job categories saw fewer beneficiaries in the past year.

Over the past 12 months, there were fewer people receiving regular benefits both among young workers (aged 15 to 24) and among those in their prime working years of 25 to 54. But there were 6.1 per cent more women over 55 receiving benefits in June compared to a year earlier, while there was relatively no change in the numbers among their male counterparts.

While the ranks of those currently on EI is shrinking, there was a surge in June in new applicants for jobless benefits, which could indicate that more people will be drawing benefits down the line.

Compared to May, claims rose 2.7 per cent in June to 236,300, the data agency said.