Today's jobless claims report showed a decline in initial unemployment claims and an increase in continued jobless claims, as initial claims trended well below the closely watched 400,000 level. Seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims declined by 5,000 to 366,000, from 371,000 for the prior week. Seasonally adjusted continued claims increased by 8,000 to 3.224 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 who've fallen off of the traditional unemployment benefits rolls. Currently, there are some 1.82 million people receiving federal extended unemployment benefits.
Taken together with the latest 3.67 million people who are currently counted as receiving traditional continued unemployment benefits, there are 5.50 million people on state and federal unemployment rolls.