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Evanston’s jobless rate fell to 4.3 percent in December, the lowest in 16 months.

Figures released today by the Illinois Department of Employment Security show the rate was down from 4.7 percent in November. The rate was 4.4 percent in December a year ago.

But the decline in joblessness was largely due to a decrease in the city’s labor force, which shrank by 274 people between November and December, while only 6 more people had jobs in December.

The size of the labor force in Evanston was up by just 21 people last month compared to a year ago.

The metro Chicago jobless rate stood at 5.4 percent in December, up from 5.3 percent in November, but down from 5.7 percent a year ago.

The statewide jobless rate in December was 5.6 percent, up from 5.3 percent in November, but down from 6 percent a year ago.

Twenty of the 107 Illinois communities with more than 25,000 rsidents had jobless rates lower than Evanston’s last month.

Wilmette and Downers Grove were tied for the lowest rate at 3.8 percent. Arlington Heights and Highland Park were at 3.9 percent. Skokie was at 4.2 percent.

The highest unemployment rates in Illinois last month were Harvey at 9.6 percent, Round Lake Beach at 9.5 percent and Kankakee at 9.2 percent.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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