Illinois unemployment rises to 5.9 percent in December

CHICAGO (AP) — State officials say Illinois’ unemployment rate increased in December to 5.9 percent and the state lost a net 16,300 jobs for the month. The increase in the jobless rate was the second in a row after a string of months dating to July 2014 in which unemployment either fell or held steady. According to Friday’s unemployment report from the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity, the jobless rate rose from 5.7 percent in November. The national unemployment rate was 5 percent in December. Illinois ended 2015 with 3,000 fewer jobs than the state had in December 2014. That drop is less than 1 percent but department director Jeff Mays noted that Illinois had not ended a year with fewer jobs than it started with since 2009.