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The Associated Press March 31, 2011, 4:47PM ET

Feb. jobless rate dips in all Illinois metro areas

State officials say the unemployment rate dropped in every Illinois metropolitan area in February for a record sixth consecutive month.

A report issued Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security shows that the Rockford metropolitan area still has the state's highest unemployment rate, at 13.6 percent. That's down slightly from January, but more than 4 percentage points lower than the same time last year.

The Kankakee-Bradley metropolitan area jobless rate was second-highest, at 13.1 percent, in February. That's down 2.7 percentage points from last year.

The lowest unemployment rates for February were 7.4 percent in the Bloomington-Normal area and 8.1 percent in the Springfield area.

The IDES says jobless rates also dropped in every individual county for the third straight month, signaling a growing Illinois economy.

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