Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Fewer Americans are being laid off and job creation continues to be on the upswing, the Department of Labor said Thursday.
The department showed 203,000 new claims at the end of August -- 10,000 fewer than the previous week. The seasonally adjusted number is the lowest since December 1969.
States with the largest increase in initial claims were New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington and Oregon. The largest decreases were seen in California, New Jersey, Georgia, Ohio and North Carolina.
U.S. businesses added 157,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent, the lowest level since 2000.
The statistics also showed the number of Americans seeking unemployment for longer than a week fell by 3,000 to 1.7 million.
While the majority of the United States is enjoying a job boom, some areas are struggling with unemployment -- as high as 22 percent in some places.
Thursday, USA Today identified 50 counties in the United States that have the highest unemployment rates -- most in the South and West.
The Kusilvak Census Area in Alaska topped the list, with unemployment at 22 percent. The state's Yukon-Koyukuk area (17.6 percent) and Northwest Arctic Borough (16.8 percent) were ranked second and third. Yuma County, Ariz., and Imperial County, Calif., round out the top five.
Six areas in Alaska and others in Kentucky and Mississippi comprised the top 10. In many areas, energy-related jobs took a hit when oil and natural gas prices tumbled.