Unemployment in Illinois dropped for the first time in more than three years, while companies added to their payrolls for a fourth consecutive month, according to state figures.
The state jobless rate dipped to 11.2 percent in April from 11.5 percent the previous month, the Illinois Department of Employment Security reported.
A year ago, the jobless rate stood at 9.6 percent. The three-month average, at 11.4 percent, remained the highest since August 1983 as more unemployed workers enter the job market.
The report also showed companies added 19,100 jobs during the month, the fourth straight monthly gain. For the year, the state has seen an increase of 51,500.
“The job market in both the nation and Illinois is beginning to show signs of improvement,” IDES Director Maureen O’Donnell said in a statement. Four straight months of job growth provides cautious optimism that the effects of the national recession on the state’s labor market might be softening.”
Nationwide, payrolls jumped in April by 290,000, the biggest monthly gain in four years. The unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent from 9.7 percent as thousands of job seekers entered the workforce.
In Illinois, the gain was led by a rise in government, professional and business services, transportation and manufacturing employment. IDES attributed the rise in government jobs to hiring for the 2010 census.