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Jobless claims lowest in three years

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(Read caption) This chart shows the change in the number of initial and continued unemployment claims over the past two years. Jobless claims dropped to their lowest levels since 2008 last week, a positive sign of growth for the job market.

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Today’s jobless claims report showed notable declines to both initial and continued unemployment claims as seasonally adjusted initial fell back below the closely watched 400K level.

Seasonally adjusted “initial” unemployment declined 50,000 to 352,000 claims from last week’s revised 402,000 claims while seasonally adjusted “continued” claims declined by 215,000 resulting in an “insured” unemployment rate of 2.7%.

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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.

Currently there are some 3.56 million people receiving federal “extended” unemployment benefits.

Taken together with the latest 4.16 million people that are currently counted as receiving traditional continued unemployment benefits, there are 7.77 million people on state and federal unemployment rolls.