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Today's jobless claims report showed a notable decline for initial jobless claims and an increase in continued jobless claims, as initial claims trended well below the closely watched 400K level. Seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims declined by 37,000 to 335,000 claims from a revised 372,000 claims for the prior week, while seasonally adjusted continued claims rose by 87,000 claims to 3.214 million -- resulting in an insured unemployment rate of 2.5%.

Since the middle of 2008, though, two federal government sponsored extended unemployment benefit programs (the extended benefits and EUC 2008 from recent legislation) have been picking up claimants that have fallen off of the traditional unemployment benefits rolls. Currently, there are some 2.06 million people receiving federal extended unemployment benefits.

Taken together with the latest 3.28 million people that are currently counted as receiving traditional continued unemployment benefits, there are 5.34 million people on state and federal unemployment rolls.

Source: Extended Unemployment: Initial, Continued, and Extended Unemployment Claims - Jan. 17