BUSINESS BRIEFING / THE ECONOMY

Times Staff and Wire Reports

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week, while the number of people on unemployment rolls dropped to the lowest since April, signaling that the labor market may be stabilizing as the recession eases.

Applications rose to 558,000 in the week that ended Aug. 8 from a revised 554,000 the week before, the Labor Department said, but stayed under 600,000 for a sixth time.

The number of people collecting benefits fell by 141,000 in the week that ended Aug. 1, to 6.2 million.

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