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      Unemployment falls in 75% of US states

      WASHINGTON (AP) - An increase in hiring helped lower unemployment rates in 37 U.S. states last month, the latest indication that the job market is slowly healing.

      Unemployment rates are now below 7% in 23 of the 50 states. The Labor Department says rates rose in seven states in October and were unchanged in six.

      South Carolina's rate fell from 9.1% to 8.6%, the biggest drop. The state gained 7,300 jobs, mostly in hotels, restaurants, education and health care, and government. Alaska and Wisconsin recorded the next biggest declines.

      Nationwide, the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9% in October. But it has declined a full point in the past year. Employers added 171,000 jobs and hiring was stronger in August and September than first estimated.

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