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Today's jobless claims report showed a decline in initial unemployment claims and a slight increase in continued unemployment claims, as initial claims trended below the closely watched 400K level. Seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims declined by 7,000 to 340,000 from 347,000 for the prior week, while seasonally adjusted continued claims increased by 3,000 to 3.094 million, resulting in an insured unemployment rate of 2.4%.

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 who have fallen off of the traditional unemployment benefits rolls. Currently there are some 1.78 million people receiving federal extended unemployment benefits.

Taken together with the latest 3.53 million people who are currently counted as receiving traditional continued unemployment benefits, there are 5.31 million people on state and federal unemployment rolls.

Source: Initial, Continued, And Extended Unemployment Claims - March 7, 2013