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Unemployment claims fall

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(Read caption) This chart shows the rates of initial and continued unemployment claims over the past two years. After peaking in 2009 and then dropping off sharply, rates have been in steady decline in 2010 and 2011.

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Today’s jobless claims report showed an decline to both initial and continued unemployment claims as a slight rising trend was called into question for initial claims.
Seasonally adjusted “initial” unemployment declined 2,000 to 402,000 claims from last week’s revised 404,000 claims while seasonally adjusted “continued” claims declined by 96,000 resulting in an “insured” unemployment rate of 2.9%.

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.

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Currently there are some 3.44 million people receiving federal “extended” unemployment benefits.
Taken together with the latest 3.13 million people that are currently counted as receiving traditional continued unemployment benefits, there are 6.58 million people on state and federal unemployment rolls.