Statistics Canada says the number of people receiving regular EI benefits dropped for the third consecutive month in April, down 28,600 to 513,700.

The agency says the number of beneficiaries fell in nine provinces, with the largest percentage declines occurring in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

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 end up on EI.

In a release earlier this month, Statistics Canada said Canada's official unemployment number increased by 14,000 in april and a further 8,000 in May.

"The combination of falling EI coverage and rising unemployment means that tens of thousands more unemployed workers are not getting benefits," United Steelworkers economist Erin Weir commented Thursday.

"In total, there were 514,000 EI recipients out of 1,371,000 officially unemployed workers in April. In other words, only 37 per cent of jobless Canadians received EI benefits," Weir noted.

Nationally, the number of initial and renewal claims was essentially unchanged in April at 235,700, a level which has held relatively stable since September 2011.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of men receiving regular benefits fell 16.4 per cent to 366,800, continuing a string of declines that started in March 2010.

The number of women on EI dropped 15 per cent from April 2011 to 195,500.

With files from CBC News