Evanston’s unemployment rate declined for a second straight month in August to 7.2 percent. But it was still up from 5.5 percent a year ago.

The rate declined half a percentage point last month, from 7.7 percent in July. The jobless rate had peaked at 8.2 percent in June.

The figures released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security show that Evanston’s employment picture continues to be better than most in the state.

In June, 16 of the state’s nearly 100 communities with over 25,000 residents had jobless rates lower than Evanston. In July that number declined to six, and in August it rose slightly to seven.

The communities with lower rates than Evanston in August were Carbondale at 6.3 percent, Elmhurst at 7.1 percent, Glenview at 6.8 percent, Highland Park at 6.3 percent, Normal at 7.0 percent, Northbrook at 6.3 percent and Wilmette at 6.1 percent.

Among other metro-area communities, the jobless rate in Oak Park and Wheaton was 7.2 percent, tied with Evanston, 7.3 percent in Arlington Heights, 8.2 percent in Skokie, 9.5 percent in Des Plaines, 10.5 percent in the City of Chicago and 12.8 percent in Waukegan. Except for Waukegan, those numbers were also down from July levels, some by as much as a full percentage point.

Statewide the unemployment rate was 9.9 percent last month, down from 10.5 percent in July. The rate for the Chicago metro area dropped to 9.6 percent from 10.7 percent.

Evanston’s jobless rate for all of 2008 averaged 4.7 percent.

The state, metro and individual community jobless figures are not seasonally adjusted.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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