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State

Illinois unemployment rate below 5 percent for first time in a decade

CHICAGO (AP) – Illinois officials say the state’s unemployment rate fell .5 percentage points to 4.9 percent in March.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security reported Thursday that the jobless level is now below 5 percent for the first time in a decade.

But Illinois’ unemployment rate is still higher than the national unemployment rate for March, which dropped to 4.5 percent.

IDES reports the sectors with the largest employment gains were leisure and hospitality; trade, transportation and utilities and other services.

The state also revised its jobs data for February to show the state gained fewer jobs than initially reported. That change, along with the March numbers, means Illinois is still 19,600 jobs short of its previous peak employment reached in September 2000.

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