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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 dropped last week, evidence that layoffs are declining and that economic momentum may be accelerating.

The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for jobless aid fell 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 289,000. The less volatile four-week moving average slipped to 293,500. That's the lowest reading since February 2006, almost two years before the economy spun into the worst downturn since the 1930s.

Here are the states with the biggest decreases in applications. No state reported increases in jobless claims of more than 1,000. The unadjusted data is for the week that ended July 26, one week behind the national figures:

States with the biggest decreases:

Michigan: Down 3,773, due to fewer layoffs in wholesale trade

Ohio: Down 2,701, due to fewer layoffs in manufacturing and transportation

New York: Down 2,375, due to fewer layoffs in transportation, warehousing, education, and health care and social assistance

South Carolina: Down 2,263, due to fewer layoffs in manufacturing

Pennsylvania: Down 2,224, due to fewer layoffs in administration, food service and construction

Georgia: Down 1,982, due to fewer layoffs in manufacturing

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