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Chicago jobless rate drops to 8.6% in December

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

The unemployment rate in the Chicago metropolitan area fell to 8.6 percent in December from 8.9 percent in November and dropped over the year, the Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday.

The rate fell from 10.6 percent in December 2009, but the area lost 28,900 jobs over the period.

Unemployment rates dropped in every county in the state over the year for the first time since 1974, when the agency began collecting date. The rate fell in every metropolitan area for the fourth straight month.

“Falling unemployment rates in every county in our state touches another milestone on our road to recovery,” IDES Director Maureen O’Donnell said in a statement. “Although the economy still is challenged from the effects of the national recession, the long-term trends continue to show Illinois is moving forward and adding jobs.”

In December, the state added 46,300 jobs over the year.

More staying out of work longer

In national unemployment news released Thursday, updated research from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that a high level of education provides only limited protection against long-term joblessness.

Thirty-one percent of unemployed workers with a bachelor’s degree have been without work for a year or longer, compared to 36 percent of unemployed high school graduates and 33 percent of unemployed high school drop outs, Pew said based on an analysis of the Labor Department’s December unemployment report. Pew also found that older workers who lose their jobs are the most likely to remain out of work for at least a year.

The number of people unemployed for a year or longer jumped to 4.2 million nationally in December, up from 3.4 million a year earlier, the Labor Department revealed earlier this month.

The long-term unemployed accounted for 30 percent of the 14 million Americans who were unemployed last month.

The rate has stayed the same since August 2010, but it’s up from 23 percent of 14.7 million unemployed in December of 2009, Pew noted.

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