How states fared on unemployment benefit claims

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Fewer people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, evidence that recent job gains should continue.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid fell 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 302,000. The less volatile four-week average has slipped to 309,000, the lowest reading since June 2007, about five months 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 July 5, one week behind the national figures:

States with the biggest decreases:

California: Down 4,008, due to fewer layoffs in the service industry

New Jersey: Down 3,953, due to fewer layoffs in education, transportation, hotels and food service, public administration, construction and retail

Texas: Down 2,923, no reason given

Massachusetts: Down 1,981, due to fewer layoffs in transportation

Connecticut: Down 1,135, no reason given

States with the biggest increases:

Michigan: Up 9,821, due to layoffs in services

New York: Up 5,272, due to layoffs in transportation, education, health care and social assistance

Ohio: Up 3,352, due to layoffs in transportation

Arkansas: Up 1,981, no reason given

Kentucky: Up 1,844, no reason given

Missouri: Up 1,844, due to layoffs in manufacturing, transportation and administrative services

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