The number of people applying for unemployment benefits plummeted last week, a sign that the job market is slowly improving. Applications dropped by 34,000 to 388,000 in the week ending Dec. 25, the Labor Department said. The number has fallen or remained the same in five of the past six weeks.
Here are the states with the largest changes in applications, and some of the reasons for the shifts. The data is for the week ending Dec. 18, one week behind the nationwide figures.
States with the largest declines:
California: Down 7,656, due to fewer layoffs in agriculture
Illinois: Down 3,149, due to fewer layoffs in construction and services
Georgia: Down 1,935, due to fewer layoffs in the construction, trade, service and manufacturing industries
Pennsylvania: Down 1,574, due to fewer layoffs in the construction and industrial machinery industries
Texas: Down 1,494, due to fewer layoffs in trade and manufacturing
States with the largest increases:
New Jersey: Up 5,235, due to layoffs in the construction, services, transportation and manufacturing industries
Michigan: Up 3,087, due to layoffs in the auto industry
Missouri: Up 2,404, due to layoffs in construction and services
Florida: Up 2,281, due to layoffs in services, manufacturing and agriculture
Oregon: Up 2,026, no reason given
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