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County jobless rate declines to 7.6 percent

CRYSTAL LAKE – McHenry County’s unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent in August, down from 7.9 percent a year ago, according to preliminary figures released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

The jobless rate in Crystal Lake was 8.1 percent compared with 8.3 percent in August 2012, IDES spokesman Greg Rivara said.

Other jobless numbers showed Algonquin at 7.4 percent, down from 7.8 percent in July 2012; McHenry, 7.3 percent, down from 8.2 percent; and Lake in the Hills, 7.7 percent, down from 8.2 percent. Carpentersville’s unemployment rate dropped to 9.1 percent from 9.2 percent.

Kane County’s unemployment rate stood at 8.2 percent, the same as in August 2012.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security said unemployment dropped last month in eight of the state’s dozen metro areas.

Department Director Jay Rowell said the re-opening of schools in August helped put people to work across the state.

Unemployment increased in Peoria, Decatur and Danville. All three are heavily dependent on the weak manufacturing sector. Decatur’s 12 percent unemployment rate was the state’s highest and up from 11.4 percent in August 2012.

The other increase was in the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville area. The jobless rate hit 9.2 percent after registering at 8.9 percent a year earlier.

The lowest metro unemployment rate was Davenport-Moline-Rock Island’s 6.5 percent. That was down from 7 percent.

Officials announced earlier this month that statewide unemployment was 9.2 percent. That’s one of the highest rates in the country.

Nationally, the job market is sending signs that it may be strengthening, according to a separate report.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits has sunk to its lowest point in six years because few companies are laying anyone off anymore.

Last week, applications for unemployment benefits fell 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 305,000. The number had reached 294,000 two weeks earlier, but that figure was distorted by computer upgrades in California and Nevada that prevented those states from processing all their claims. Those two states have now caught up and are reporting complete data, the government said.

Excluding the distorted figure, last week’s 305,000 applications were the fewest since September 2007, three months before the Great Recession began.

Applications generally reflect the pace of layoffs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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