Today's jobless claims report showed notable declines to both initial and continued unemployment claims. Seasonally adjusted initial claims dropped below 300K for the first time since mid-2007, although this steep drop appears to have come as a result of under-reporting and is likely to be revised upward next week. Seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims dropped by 31,000 to 292,000 claims from 323,000 for the prior week, while seasonally adjusted continued claims declined by 73,000 to 2.871 million -- resulting in an insured unemployment rate of 2.2%.
Since the middle of 2008, though, two federal government sponsored extended unemployment benefit programs (extended benefits and EUC 2008 from recent legislation) have been picking up claimants who have fallen off the traditional unemployment benefits rolls. Currently, there are some 1.45 million people receiving federal extended unemployment benefits. Taken together with the latest 2.74 million people who are currently counted as receiving traditional continued unemployment benefits, there are 4.19 million people on state and federal unemployment rolls.