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Quinn, Rauner Spar Over Illinois Job Numbers

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(CBS) – Good news and not so good news for Illinois on jobs.

Illinois leads the nation in cutting our unemployment rate. But it still lags behind most of its neighbors in other key categories.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine says the big drop in unemployment is relative.

Pat Quinn arrived at a North Side long-term care facility Monday to sign bills protecting vulnerable adults and senior citizens. He’d come right from Rockford, where he’d taken part in an event to announce 500 new jobs.

Since last week, Quinn’s been talking about a big annual drop in the state’s unemployment rate — the biggest in the nation, from 9.2 percent to 6.8, as proof that Illinois’ economy was making a comeback.

But the full report is not as good.

It shows only Michigan, at 7.7 percent, with a higher unemployment rate among neighboring states, followed by Illinois, all the way down to Iowa’s 4.5 percent.

And as for the number of new jobs, only Iowa has seen a smaller jump in the past year, with 16,500, to Illinois’ 35,600. Everyone else saw more, all the way up to Indiana’s 65,800 — nearly twice Illinois’ gains.

Quinn says Illinois has higher wages than some of its neighbors.

Quinn’s opponent, Republican Bruce Rauner, chose to emphasize a different period of time, this year alone, in claiming Illinois leads the Midwest in job losses.

“I don’t need to take any advice on economics from Bruce Rauner. He’s a leader when it comes to cutting jobs and outsourcing jobs,” Quinn shot back.