More unemployed workers filed for temporary government insurance protection last week, with the total initial claims rising by 17,000 to 551,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

Looking at the broader 4-week moving average trend, however, claims were down 6,250 to 548,000 for the week ending September 19.

There are a total of 6.09 million workers receiving temporary jobless insurance benefits, according to an advance Labor Department estimate.

The length of time workers can receive jobless benefits has been extended in 39 states, including the Puerto Rico territory, in the wake of the worst U.S. recession since the Great Depression.

The top five highest insured unemployment rates in the week ending Sept. 12 were Puerto Rico, Oregon, Nevada, Pennsylvania and California.

While financial markets have already started to point towards recovery, labor markets have tended to lag behind. Consumer confidence in September fell compared to August, according to a private report released earlier this week.

Figures have indicated that people are wary about their own economic prospects now and six months going forward.

Many economists estimate that the unemployment rate will rise above the current 9.7 percent rate to exceed 10 percent before starting to decline sometime next year.