CHICAGO (AP) – State officials say the unemployment rate in Illinois declined again in December to 9.3 percent – its lowest level since March 2009.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Friday that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell three-tenths of a percentage point last month from its November level, marking its ninth consecutive month of decline.

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The national unemployment rate, meanwhile, declined in December by four-tenths of a percentage point to 9.4 percent.

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IDES Director Maureen O’Donnell says December was the second straight month in which Illinois had a lower unemployment rate that the nation as a whole.

O’Donnell also says preliminary data indicates that Illinois will have ended 2010 with a growing economy, something which has not happened since 2007.

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