updated 5/24/2007 8:44:41 AM ET 2007-05-24T12:44:41

The number of newly laid off workers filing applications for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week but still remained at a level indicating a healthy labor market.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for jobless benefits totaled 311,000 last week, an increase of 15,000 from the previous week. It was the first increase after five straight weekly declines.

The total was slightly higher than the 305,000 that economists had been expecting. But it still remained at a level indicating that the overall economic slowdown has not seriously depressed the labor market.

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