Today's jobless claims report showed a notable increase in initial unemployment claims and a slight decline in continued unemployment claims, as initial claims trended well below the closely watched 400,000 level. Seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims increased by 32,000 to 360,000 from 328,000 for the prior week, while seasonally adjusted continued claims declined by 4,000 to 3.009 million -- resulting in an insured unemployment rate of 2.3%.
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 1.79 million people receiving federal extended unemployment benefits. Taken together with the latest 2.97 million people who are currently counted as receiving traditional continued unemployment benefits, there are 4.76 million people on state and federal unemployment rolls.