There were 200 fewer employment insurance cheques addressed for Sudbury this May as compared to the same time last year — but that's not necessarily good news, a local economist says.

Statistics Canada says 2,620 in the city were on EI in May — down 240 people from last year, and down 180 people from the month before.

'The real story's in the employment numbers and they don't show anything very positive right now.'- Laurentian University economist David Robinson

Laurentian University economist David Robinson said that shouldn't be taken as a sign the economy is on the upswing, however. He said most of those people likely had their EI benefits run out.

"I don't think there's really any good news in the employment insurance numbers. The real story's in the employment numbers and they don't show anything very positive right now."

Robinson noted very few new jobs have been created across Canada over the last year, and said mining and forestry sectors have both seen their employment numbers drop four per cent

"We know that employment fell through the winter,” he said.

“It was a hard winter for many areas. So what's likely happening is that you have people have been on employment insurance as long as they can be."

Robinson said he will be watching for the latest employment numbers this Friday, when Stats Canada releases its monthly look at the unemployment rate.