Crawford County unemployment figures increased in December.
According to Illinois Department of Employment Security Job Market Analyst Dennis Hoffman, 10.1 percent of the county's workforce was unemployed and actively seeking new jobs during the month. This was up from 9.6 percent in December 2012 and 9.8 percent in November 2013.
Clark County posted a rate of 10.3 percent, unchanged from a year before, but up from 9.6 percent in November.
The Jasper County rate, at 8.5 percent, was up from 8.4 percent in 2012 and 8.1 percent in November. In Lawrence County, the rate was 8.8 percent, up from 8 percent a year earlier and 8.1 percent the previous month.
Unemployment rates moderately increased throughout south-central Illinois when compared to one year ago, according to Hoffman.
"Workforce conditions were stable at the end of 2013 in this region of Illinois," he said. "Seasonal employment gains were reported in retail trade, wholesale trade and eating and drinking places.
"Payroll advances occurred in transportation and health care services," Hoffman added. "Inclement weather conditions caused a seasonal decrease in construction employment. Government payrolls remained on a steady downward trend."
Hoffman explained end-of-year employment opportunities were available in retail trade, leisure/hospitality and transportation, while health care and medical support occupations continued to have many openings.
"Demands continued for workers in food services, sales, material movers, management, computer operations, engineering, production occupations, office support staff, social services and installation, maintenance and repair occupations," he said.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security said the state's unemployment rate dropped in December for a fourth straight month. But the 8.6 percent rate is still one of the highest in the country.
The department said the state lost a net 3,200 jobs in December. Officials blamed brutal cold for decreases in, among other areas, construction jobs. However, department Director Jay Rowell said Illinois' economy remains on track for moderate expansion.
The unemployment rate fell from 8.7 percent in November, but was the same as the 9.6-percent rate reported in December 2012. The national unemployment rate for December was 6.5 percent, down from 7.6 a year earlier and 6.6 in November. It was the lowest figure since late 2008.
Construction jobs were reduced by 4,500 in December. Government, labor and hospitality and educational and health services employers also all cut jobs. Trade, transportation and utilities firms added a net 4,500 jobs.
Across the Wabash River, the Indiana statewide rate was 6.3 percent in December. That was down from 8.5 percent a year earlier and 7.2 percent the previous month.
In Vigo County, the rate was 8.6 percent. This was down from 10 percent in December 2012 and 8.9 percent in November.
The Sullivan County rate of 7.5 percent was down from 11.8 percent in 2012 and 9 percent in November. Knox County's rate was 4.8 percent, down from 7.3 percent a year earlier and 5.7 percent a month before.