Weekly applications for US unemployment aid fell to a seasonally adjusted 340,000 last week, cutting the four-week average to the lowest level in five years. The drop is a positive sign ahead of Friday's February jobs report.
Here are the states with the biggest increases and decreases in applications. The state data are for the week ended Feb. 23, one week behind the national figures.
States with the biggest increases:
Massachusetts: Up 4,024, due to school vacations and bad weather
North Carolina: Up 1,995, due to layoffs in construction, transportation, warehousing and concrete products industries
Illinois: Up 1,782, due to layoffs in construction, manufacturing and administrative support
States with the biggest decreases:
California: Down 40,352, due to fewer layoffs in all sectors, particularly services
New York: Down 2,070, due to fewer layoffs in the construction, retail, and healthcare industries