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Unemployment claims fall to a four-year low

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(Read caption) This chart shows the rate of initial and continued unemployment benefit claims over the past three years. Initial jobless claims declined to 357,000 claims, the lowest total in four years.

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Today’s jobless claims report showed that both initial and continued unemployment claims declined while seasonally adjusted initial claims continued to trend well below the closely watched 400K level.

Seasonally adjusted “initial” declined to 357,000 claims from last week’s revised 363,000 claims while seasonally adjusted “continued” claims declined by 16,000 resulting in an “insured” unemployment rate of 2.6%.

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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 3.25 million people receiving federal “extended” unemployment benefits.

Taken together with the latest 3.69 million people that are currently counted as receiving traditional continued unemployment benefits, there are 6.95 million people on state and federal unemployment rolls.