Illinois led 22 states last month posting the biggest drop in the unemployment rate, as the nation at large claimed a fifth straight month of solid hiring.
The Labor Department says unemployment rates rose in 14 states. Meanwhile, employers added jobs in 33 states and cut back in 17.
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The unemployment rate in Illinois fell to 7.1 percent from 7.5 percent. The state's rate has fallen by 0.8 percentage points in the past two months, partly because more people have given up searching for work.
Nationwide, employers added 288,000 jobs last month, capping the healthiest stretch of hiring in 15 years. The robust job gains have helped cut the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent, the lowest in nearly six years.