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Unemployment rate drops to 8.8 percent

Illinois adds 9,100 jobs in March, dropping unemployment for a seventh straight month

CHICAGO — Illinois added 9,100 jobs in March and the unemployment rate fell for the seventh consecutive month to reach 8.8 percent, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). The data is seasonally adjusted. The last time the rate was below 8.8 percent was February 2009 when it was 8.5 percent.

“The monthly snapshot of job growth and lower unemployment adds to the overall trend of an improving Illinois economy,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said.

“This positive momentum should continue despite the likelihood that uneven job growth might prevent the unemployment rate from falling as quickly as we would like.”

Illinois added 142,100 private sector jobs since January 2010 when job growth returned to Illinois. Since January 2010, leading growth sectors are professional and business services (75,900); manufacturing (33,800); educational and health services (29,700); and leisure and hospitality (18,700). Government has lost the most jobs since January 2010, down 25,700.

Historically, the national unemployment rate is lower than the state rate. Only six times since January 2000 has the Illinois rate been lower than the nation’s. That period includes times of economic expansion and contraction.

In March 2012, the number of unemployed individuals fell for the seventh consecutive month, decreasing 17,200 (2.9 percent) to 581,200. Total unemployed has declined 171,600 (22.8 percent) since January 2010 when the state unemployment rate peaked at 11.4 percent. The rate identifies those who are out of work and seeking employment. A person who exhausts benefits, or is ineligible, still will be reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

The IDES supports economic stability by administering unemployment benefits, collecting business contributions to fund those benefits, connecting employers with qualified job seekers, and providing economic information to assist career planning and economic development. It does so through more than 45 offices, including Illinois workNet centers.

Note that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics requires revisions to monthly employment and labor force data. The revisions occur each February based upon updated Census data, unemployment insurance inputs and seasonal factors.

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