RTTNews - Statistics Canada said Tuesday that a record 778,700 people received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in May.

EI claims were up 65,600, or 9.2%, from a month earlier, with Alberta and Ontario showing the fastest rates of increase. This rise followed an increase of 3.7% in April.

The number of people receiving regular benefits in May was the highest since comparable data became available in 1997.

The number of EI beneficiaries has soared almost 55 percent or by more than 278,000, since last October.

Following two months of small declines, the number of initial and renewal claims received in May increased 5.2% to 332,800, the highest number of claims since 1997.

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