The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Friday that the improved jobless rate was a product of strong job growth in construction, leisure and hospitality and the educational and health services sector.
But newly appointed department Director Jeff Mays said the improvement still meant Illinois lagged behind the nation as a whole. U.S. unemployment fell to 5.6 percent in December.
The department said Illinois construction firms added a net 6,000 jobs in December. Educational and health services employers added 4,700 jobs. Leisure and hospitality companies added 4,500.
The last time Illinois' jobless rate was this low was in May 2008.