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Unemployment Rate Falls To 8.8 Percent In Illinois

CHICAGO (STMW)-- The unemployment rate in Illinois fell to 8.8 percent in March from 8.9 percent in February and from 11 percent a year earlier, the Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday.

The report, which marks the 14th straight month of declines, revealed the state added 76,600 jobs over the year and 1,700 over the month.

The state jobless rate matches that of the nation.

"The Illinois labor market continues to demonstrate solid signs of a jobs recovery," IDES Director Maureen O'Donnell said in a statement. "Not since December has our state recorded such consistent declines in the unemployment rate. Even though slight up-and-down movement in job creation and unemployment remain possible in this stage of the recovery, the long-term data show Illinois is moving in a positive direction."

Over the year, the biggest job increases in Illinois were in professional and business services, up 30,200; educational and health services, up 20,500; and trade, transportation and utilities, up 19,500.

Since February, the biggest gains were in trade, transportation and utilities, up 4,600; other services, up 1,800; and professional and business services, up 1,200.

The government sector shed the most jobs since March 2010 at 5,400 followed by the information sector, down 4,300 jobs; and construction, which lost 2,500.

Since February, the biggest cuts were in educational and health services and leisure and hospitality; both sectors shed 1,800 jobs.

Also on Thursday, the federal government said applications for unemployment benefits rose 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 412,000 for the week ended April 9 — the first increase in three weeks. Still, the broader trend points to a slowly healing jobs market nationally.

Illinois was among the states with biggest increase in applicants — up 1,013 due to more layoffs in the construction, transportation and warehousing industries.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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