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States with the biggest changes in jobless aid applications, and some reasons, at a glance

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WASHINGTON - Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits plunged last week, a sign that the economy is building strength.

The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for jobless aid fell 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000. The fewest people sought benefits since February 2006, almost two years before the start of the Great Recession.

Here are the states with the biggest increases and decreases in applications. The unadjusted data is for the week that ended July 12, one week behind the national figures:

States with the biggest decreases:

Michigan: Down 6,846, due to fewer layoffs in manufacturing

New Jersey: Down 5,886, due to fewer layoffs in education, transportation and warehousing, hotels and food service, and public administration

Kentucky: Down 1,673, no reason given

Ohio: Down 1,552, due to fewer layoffs in transportation

States with the biggest increases:

New York: Up 14,427, due to layoffs in transportation and warehousing, construction, and public administration

California: Up 11,126, due to layoffs in services

Georgia: Up 6,112, due to layoffs in manufacturing, administration, hotels and food service, and construction

Texas: Up 5,147, due to layoffs in manufacturing, support services and retail

Indiana: Up 4,748, due to layoffs in manufacturing

Pennsylvania: Up 4,492, due to layoffs in administration, food services and construction

Tennessee: Up 3,444, due to layoffs in administration, manufacturing and technical service

Alabama: Up 3,172, due to layoffs in administration, waste management, hotels and food service, manufacturing, transportation and retail

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