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BLOOMINGTON - McLean County's unemployment rate improved for the third consecutive month.

McLean County's jobless rate improved from 4.3 percent in March to 4 percent in April, according to statistics from the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

The rate dropped as employment increased and unemployment decreased, said IDES analyst Norman Kelewitz. Employment was up by 713 workers while the number of unemployed community members dipped by 247 people since March.

The seasonal appearance of farmers who pulled out their tractors and planters for the spring planting season probably contributed to last month's improvement, Kelewitz said.

"Some of it may be due to agriculture," he said.

McLean County had the sixth-lowest unemployment rate in April. That was a dip in the state rankings since March when the county tied for the fourth-lowest rate, but is still within the county's usual position within the top eight, Kelewitz said.

"Compared to most areas in the state, the economy is good," he said.

Still, the local economy is not performing as well as a year ago.

Higher employment and unemployment contributed to an unemployment rate that increased from 3.4 percent in April 2007, Kelewitz said.

The number of county residents who had work in April was up 1,981 from the year before, but 595 more community members also were unemployed, Kelewitz said.

Meanwhile, McLean County gained 300 jobs over the year, for a total of 91,700 last month, compared to 91,400 in April 2007. Financial activities experienced the biggest gains with 600 new jobs while the government sector lost 300 jobs. Kelewitz did not know the reason for the year-over-year change.

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Unemployment rates also dropped nationally and throughout Central Illinois in April.

Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an April jobless rate of 5 percent, slightly down from 5.1 percent in March.

Woodford County's jobless rate decreased from 4 percent to 3.5 percent last month.

DeWitt County unemployment fell from 5.9 percent to 5.3 percent.

Unemployment declined from 5.6 percent to 5 percent in Ford County.

LaSalle County unemployment dropped to 6.9 percent, from 7.5 percent in March.

The jobless rate in Livingston County declined from 5.6 percent in March to 5.2 percent in April.

Logan County unemployment dipped from 6.1 percent in March to 5.6 percent last month.

Tazewell County's jobless rate decreased from 4.9 percent in March to 4.4 percent the following month.

Unemployment in Illinois dropped 0.1 percent to 5.4 percent in April.

Also across the state in April, Woodford County had the lowest unemployment rate, while Perry County ranked the highest with an 8.2 percent jobless rate.

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