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Unemployment in Illinois drops to 5-year low of 8.4 percent

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CHICAGO — State officials say unemployment in Illinois dropped in March to 8.4 percent. That's its lowest level since 2009.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that March unemployment was down from 8.7 percent in February. But the department noted that new-job creation was still down for the month by about 3,200 jobs. That's a drop of less than 1 percent.

Department Director Jay Rowell called the report a sign of "significant progress."

Illinois continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. The federal government said earlier this month that the March unemployment rate for the nation was 6.7 percent.

Illinois' jobless rate hasn't been as low as 8.4 percent since January 2009.

Leisure and hospitality employers led March's improvement. They added a net 4,300 jobs.

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