updated 5/15/2008 8:57:09 AM ET 2008-05-15T12:57:09

The number of newly laid off workers applying for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, indicating the weak economy was still weighing on the job market.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for jobless benefits rose by 6,000 last week to 371,000. The gain was in line with expectations.

The weak economy has triggered four straight months of job losses, often a sign that a recession has started. However, the April drop was just one-fourth the size of job losses in March, giving hope that the current economic slowdown may not be as severe as the past two recessions.

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