The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell in the final week of 2011 for the fourth time in five weeks. That pushed the four-week average to its lowest level in three and a half years, a positive sign for hiring a day ahead of Friday's December jobs report.
Here are the states with the biggest increases and decreases in applications. The state-level data is for the week ended Dec. 24, one week behind the national data.
States with the biggest increases:
California: Up 16,490, due to layoffs in services
Pennsylvania: Up 6,764, due to layoffs in the construction, service, transportation and manufacturing industries
Michigan: Up 5,636, due to layoffs in the auto industry
Kentucky: Up 5,263, no reason give
Indiana: Up 5,084, due to layoffs in manufacturing, services and construction
Illinois: Up 4,206, due to layoffs in services, transportation, warehousing and construction
Ohio: Up 4,084, due to layoffs in transportation, manufacturing, and construction
States with the biggest drops:
Georgia: Down 1,105, due to fewer layoffs in the construction, service and manufacturing industries