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Illinois jobless rate unchanged; U.S. aid applications at 5-year low

Updated: January 17, 2013 4:44PM

The state’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.7 percent in December, although the number of unemployed people increased by 1,700, the Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday.

The state’s unemployment rate is above the country’s 7.8 percent rate.

In December, Illinois lost 7,600 jobs, although nearly one-third of those were temporary layoffs with return to work dates in January. But the total number of the unemployed has decreased by 176,000 since January 2010 when the state unemployment rate peaked at 11.4 percent.

“Illinois’ long-term trend is that of moderate growth punctuated by monthly up-and-down movement in the unemployment rate and the number of people working,” IDES Director Jay Rowell said in a statement.

Still, Rowell said, the positive trend is threatened by Congress and its continuing deliberations on the debt ceiling and fiscal cliff.

The biggest month-to-month job gains in December were in trade, transportation and utilities services, up 800; and in leisure and hospitality, up 600.

The biggest job losses were in manufacturing, down 5,300; and professional and business services, down 4,200.

Year-over-year, the biggest job growth was in profession and business services, up 20,800; and manufacturing, up 16,500.

Industries experiencing the biggest job losses were other services, down 9,500; and construction, down 8,600.

Nationally, the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell to a five-year low last week, a sign the job market might be healing. But season volatility may be the reason for the decline.

The Labor Department says weekly unemployment benefit applications fell 37,000 to a seasonally adjusted 335,000. That’s the lowest level since January 2008, just after the recession began.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to 359,250.

The applications data can be uneven in January. Job cuts typically spike in the second week of the month as retailers, restaurants and other companies lay off temporary workers hired for the winter holidays.

Last week, the layoffs weren’t as large as expected, a department spokesman said. That caused a steep drop in the seasonally adjusted data.

Contributing: AP

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