Published: Jan 27, 2011 5:28 PM EST
Updated: Jan 27, 2011 2:28 PM EST

The number of laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits rose sharply last week but the figures were distorted by rare snowstorms that hit the Southeast.

The state figures below are for the week of Jan. 15. The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply that week in part because the harsh weather prevented people from applying for benefits. Economists say it is particularly difficult in January to adjust the data for expected seasonal factors.

States with the biggest decreases in claims:

New York: Down 28,714, due to fewer layoffs in construction, service and transportation industries.

Georgia: Down 19,429, due to fewer layoffs in construction, service, trade and manufacturing industries.

North Carolina: Down 16,132, due to fewer layoffs in construction, service, food, textile, furniture, trade, rubber/plastics and lumber/wood industries.

Pennsylvania: Down 14,859, due to fewer layoffs in construction, service and transportation industries.

 California: Down 14,309, due to fewer layoffs in the service industry.

States with the biggest increase in claims: Florida, Up 6,646, due to layoffs in construction, trade, service, and agriculture industries.

(Florida was the only state listed.)

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)