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