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State unemployment drops to 8.7 percent

Published: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 1:00 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 5:01 p.m. CDT

CHAMPAIGN (AP) — Unemployment dropped in Illinois in November to 8.7 percent in spite of a sizable loss of manufacturing jobs, the state Department of Employment Security said Thursday. It was the third straight monthly decrease, but Illinois' unemployment rate remains one of the highest in the country.

The addition of a net 10,300 private-sector jobs helped push unemployment down by 0.2 percent in November, the department said. The federal government said earlier this month that national unemployment dropped to 7 percent in November from 7.3 percent a month earlier.

"Seven consecutive months of job growth shows that our steady economic progress continues. It shows that real progress has been made while reminding us that we have more work to do," IDES Director Jay Rowell said in a news release.

According the monthly Illinois report, the state added 6,700 jobs at trade, transportation and utility companies in November and 6,100 construction jobs.

"Construction was up everywhere — specialty trade, buildings and roads," department spokesman Greg Rivara said in an email interview. "One can assume some of it is getting road work in before the deep, deep freeze occurs; buttoning up building projects so inside work can continue during the winter; and some reflects pent-up demand."

But the state's manufacturers cut payrolls by a net 10,300 jobs. And government employers cut 4,400 jobs.

Manufacturing employment had been the strong spot in a sputtering state economy until this year. But since then it's slowed down.

The department in particular says losses are due to a slowdown in mining around the world. One of the state's major employers, Peoria-based Caterpillar, has blamed widespread layoffs on cuts in sales of its mining equipment. Those layoffs have hit Caterpillar Inc. factories in Peoria and Decatur and elsewhere.

November figures for every state aren't yet available, but Illinois has been among the highest unemployment states for months. In October, only three states had higher unemployment.

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