Jul 10, 11:12 AM EDT

How states fared on unemployment benefit claims

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Fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, driving down the level of applications to nearly the lowest in seven years.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid dropped 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000. That's not far from a reading of 298,000 two months ago, which was the lowest since 2007, before the Great Recession began.

Here are the states with the biggest increases and decreases in applications. The data is for the week that ended June 28, one week behind the national figures:

States with the biggest decreases:

California: Down 7,294, due to layoffs in the service industry

Pennsylvania: Down 4,608, due to layoffs in transportation, restaurants, and administrative services

Illinois: Down 1,243, no reason given

Maryland: Down 1,092, no reason given

Wisconsin: Down 1,063, no reason given

States with the biggest increases:

New Jersey: Up 8,579, due to layoffs in education, transportation, hotels and restaurants, and health care

Massachusetts: Up 4,566, due to layoffs in education, transportation, restaurants

Connecticut: Up 1,409, no reason given

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