DECATUR — The Decatur area's unemployment numbers continue to drop, but nonfarm jobs are again harder to come by.

The unemployment rate in the Decatur metropolitan area was 5.9 percent in July, down from 7.1 percent last July, according to Illinois Department of Employment Security statistics released Thursday. The rate was the same as in June.

Decatur had the second-highest unemployment rate in the state, ahead of only Danville’s 7.1 percent.

The unemployment rate in the city of Decatur was at 6.8 percent in July, down from 7.7 percent last July.

But Decatur joined four other metropolitan areas in Illinois that lost or had stagnant nonfarm jobs over the past year. The Decatur area had 50,900 nonfarm jobs as of July, down 400 from last year.

There were payroll increases in the number of jobs in professional and business services, construction, education, and health services gained 100 jobs. There were a loss of 300 jobs in retail trade and a loss of 100 in manufacturing, government, transportation, warehousing and utilities, and information. All other major industry sectors were stable compared to last year.

Nine other metropolitan areas in the state gained jobs in the past year, but IDES Director Jeff Mays said the rate of job growth has lessened in most metros that showed gains.

“While the gains in the Chicago area over the past year are promising, the drop in the unemployment rate is mostly due to the decline in the labor force,” he said.

There were an estimated 3,000 unemployed people in the Decatur area labor force in July 2017.

The unemployment rate identifies those who are out of work and looking for work, and is not tied to collecting unemployment insurance benefits.

The statewide unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, down from 5.9 percent a year ago but still above the national average. Nationally, the unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in July.

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Staff Writer

Government-watchdog reporter for the Herald & Review.

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