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How states fared on unemployment benefit claims
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The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in five years, a positive sign that layoffs have fallen and hiring may pick up.

The drop may also reflect the difficulty the government has in seasonally adjusting its data to account for layoffs after the holiday shopping season.

Here are the states with the biggest changes in applications. The state level data are for the week ended Jan. 12, one week behind the national data.

States with the biggest increases:

New York: Down 27,487, due to fewer layoffs in transportation, construction and educational service industries

Georgia: Down 7,520, due to fewer layoffs in manufacturing, wholesale trade and construction

North Carolina: Down 5,541, due to fewer layoffs in textiles, business services, construction and transportation and warehousing

Alabama: Down 4,245, due to fewer layoffs in textiles, construction and manufacturing

Wisconsin: Down 3,183, no reason given

South Carolina: Down 2,686, due to fewer layoffs in manufacturing

States with the biggest decreases:

Texas: Up 12,786, no reason given

California: Up 10,232, due to layoffs in services and agriculture

Florida: Up 7,314, due to layoffs in construction, services and manufacturing

Indiana: Up 4,266, due to layoffs in manufacturing and retail

New Jersey: Up 3,570, due to layoffs in the health care and administrative support industries

New Mexico: Up 2,125, no reason given