- Associated Press - Thursday, May 15, 2014

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in seven years last week, a sign the job market is steadily improving. Applications dropped 24,000 to 297,000, the fewest since May 12, 2007, the Labor Department said.

Here are the states with the biggest increases and decreases in applications. The data is for the week that ended March 1, one week behind the national figures:

States with the biggest decreases:

New York: Down 20,637, due to fewer layoffs in transportation and warehousing, restaurants, and education

California: Down 3,713, due to fewer layoffs in services

New Jersey: Down 2,565, due to fewer layoffs in hotels, restaurants, transportation and warehousing, and retail

Connecticut: Down 1,609, no reason given

Massachusetts: Down 1,277, due to fewer layoffs in education

States with the biggest increases:

Pennsylvania: Up 1,403, due to layoffs in construction, restaurants and manufacturing

Texas: Up 1,147 due to layoffs in manufacturing, finance, retail and health care

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