Total Jobless Benefit Rolls Top 5.5M

WASHINGTON — The government says initial jobless benefit claims rose slightly last week while the number of people continuing to claim benefits set a record for the ninth straight week.

The figures indicate the labor market remains weak even as some other economic indicators come in better than expected.

The Labor Department said Thursday that first-time claims for unemployment insurance rose to a seasonally adjusted 652,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 644,000. That is slightly above analysts’ expectations.

The total number of people claiming benefits are up 122,000 to 5.56 million, significantly higher than economists’ projections of 5.48 million.