Published: Dec 29, 2011 10:16 PM EST

The number of people seeking unemployment aid rose last week for the first time in a month. But the rise comes after weekly claims fell to their lowest level in three and a half years in the previous week, and the overall downward trend suggests hiring could accelerate soon.
    
Here are states with the biggest increases and decreases in unemployment benefit applications, and some of the reasons for the changes. The state data is for the week ended Dec. 17, one week behind the national figures:
    
States with the biggest decreases:
    
Pennsylvania: Down 3,667, due to fewer layoffs in the construction, plastic and educational services industries
    
Michigan: Down 3,523, due to fewer layoffs in construction
    
Illinois: Down 3,092, due to fewer layoffs in services, trade and construction
    
Georgia: Down 2,133, due to fewer layoffs in manufacturing, services, trade and construction
    
Texas: Down 1,747, no reason given
    
Florida: Down 1,688, due to fewer layoffs in agriculture, manufacturing, construction and retail
    
States with the biggest increases:
    
California: Up 4,754, due to layoffs in services
    
New York: Up 1,163, due to layoffs in construction, educational services, and the real estate, rental and leasing industry

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