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Illinois Unemployment Drops, But State Sheds Jobs

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the state's unemployment rate dropped in December for a fourth straight month. But the 8.6 percent rate is still one of the highest in the country.

The department said Friday that the state lost a net 3,200 jobs in December. Officials blamed brutal cold for decreases in, among other areas, construction jobs.

But Department Director Jay Rowell says Illinois' economy remains on track for moderate expansion.

The unemployment rate fell from 8.7 percent in November. The national unemployment rate for December was 6.7 percent. That's the lowest figure since late 2008.

Construction jobs were reduced by 4,500 in December. Government, labor and hospitality and educational and health services employers also all cut jobs.

Trade, transportation and utilities firms added a net 4,500 jobs.