WASHINGTON (AP) -- A steady decline in the number of Americans applying for weekly unemployment benefits is the latest signal that the U.S. economy has strengthened and businesses may be poised to step up hiring.
Applications fell last week fell to a seasonally adjusted 381,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the lowest level since late February. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped for the ninth time in 11 weeks.
Here are the states with the biggest changes in their applications. The state data is for the week that ended Nov. 26, one week behind the national data.
States with the biggest decreases:
- California: Down 27,440, due to fewer layoffs in services
- Texas: Down 8,543, due to closing of state offices during Thanksgiving holiday week
- Florida: Down 5,306, due to fewer layoffs in agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and retail
- South Carolina: Down 4,670, due to fewer layoffs in manufacturing
- New York: Down 4,614, due to fewer layoffs in transportation, education and health care
- Georgia: Down 4,013, due to closing of state offices during Thanksgiving holiday week
States with the biggest increases:
- Wisconsin: Up 8,172, due to layoffs related to the Thanksgiving holiday
- Michigan: Up 2,643, due to layoffs in construction
- Iowa: Up 2,228, due layoffs in manufacturing
- Indiana: Up 1,645, due to layoffs in manufacturing
- Ohio: Up 1,500, due to layoffs in manufacturing
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