Bloomington Normal unemployment stayed the same in March compared to a year ago at 6.9%. State officials say unemployment rates increased in March in seven of Illinois' 12 metro areas as the jobs outlook remained difficult, including Peoria which rose nearly a full point to 8.9%. The state Department of Employment Security says Bloomington-Normal has 1,300 fewer jobs than at this time last year. There were drops in Professional and Business Services and Government and growth in the Financial and Leisure and Hospitality sectors. Unemployment increases also came in Chicago, Decatur, Champaign-Urbana, Danville, Springfield and the Lake-Kenosha area that straddles the Illinois-Wisconsin state line. The department said earlier this month that statewide unemployment held steady at 9.5 percent in March. That's one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Decatur and Rockford shared the highest metro jobless rates in March at 11.8 percent. The lowest was in the Bloomington-Normal area.
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