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Illinois unemployment rate drops below 6 percent in February

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CHICAGO (AP) _ The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the state’s unemployment rate fell below six percent in February.

The drop to 5.4 percent leaves Illinois’ jobless rate at its lowest since late 2007. Preliminary numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released by the department Thursday indicate 25,600 non-farm jobs were added to Illinois’ economy last month.

January job growth was revised to show an increase of 8,100 jobs rather than the preliminary estimate of 1,700 jobs

February’s payroll progress still leaves Illinois lagging behind the 4.7 percent national unemployment rate. And sectors like manufacturing remain well below their year 2000 peak.

Last month’s biggest gains were made in the government, construction and education and health service sectors. Trade and transportation saw the largest decline.