State and Nation Business

Illinois unemployment rate climbs slightly in July

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The state's unemployment rate rose slightly for the second consecutive month, according to preliminary data released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Illinois' unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in July, up from an adjusted 9.1 percent in June. The June figure also climbed compared to May numbers.

July's increase came after figures fell in April and May; March held steady. In July 2012, the state's employment rate was 9 percent.

The unemployment rate is based on the number of people who are out of work, but are searching for employment.

Despite the increasing unemployment figure, officials said they were encouraged by job growth numbers, which have climbed for each of the past three months.

"Three consecutive months of positive job numbers underscores the deliberate pace of our economic growth," IDES Director Jay Rowell said in a statement.

Authorities said Thursday that employers around the state added a net 6,600 non-farm jobs in July. Overall, the private sector added 7,100 positions and construction firms added 1,600 jobs.

But the education and health services sector cut 3,600 positions and manufacturers cut a net 900 jobs in July. Illinois' manufacturing had been one of the state's strongest employment sectors until recent months.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was 7.4 percent in July 2013, although the state's figure is often higher than the national one.

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