Associated Press Wire

Sep 18, 9:15 AM EDT

How states fared on unemployment benefit claims

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Substantially fewer people sought unemployment benefits last week, which often points to employers feeling more confident about the economy and hiring more workers.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment aid fell 36,000 to a seasonally adjusted 280,000. The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, dropped 4,750 to 299,500. The average is 7.1 percent lower than it was a year ago.

Here are the states with the biggest decreases and increases in applications. The data is for the week that ended Sept. 6, one week behind the national figures:

- States with biggest decreases:

California: Down 10,968, no reason given

New York: Down 2,811 due to fewer layoffs in transportation and warehousing, education, and health care and social assistance services

Michigan: Down 1,117, due to fewer layoffs in management

- States with the biggest increases:

New Jersey: Up 1,254, due to more layoffs in hotels and restaurants, administrative services, waste management, construction and real estate

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