The unemployment rate dipped in the Quad-Cities in January as the region saw both a decrease in the number of people unemployed as well as a shrinking labor force, a labor analyst said.

According to statistics released last week by the Illinois Department of Employment Security, or IDES, the Quad-City unemployment rate was 6.3 percent in January, a decrease of 0.4 percent from a year ago. The last time the January rate was equal to or lower was in 2008 when it was 5.2 percent.

"We're still seeing losses in the total labor force, which we've been seeing in the Quad-City area for some months," said Tom Austin of IDES.

For January, IDES reported that 12,172 people were unemployed in the metropolitan statistical area that includes Rock Island, Mercer and Henry counties in Illinois and Scott County in Iowa. That compares with about 12,826 a year ago and 10,198 in December. The unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in December.

The number of people employed was 179,822 in January, compared with 180,021 a year ago and 180,480 in December.

The unemployment rate identifies those out of work and looking for work. The rate is not connected to those collecting unemployment insurance benefits. IDES will release its unemployment statistics for the month of February on March 30.

Austin said the improvement in the unemployment rate was not solely a result of the decline in those unemployed, but also driven by the fact that fewer people are continuing to look for work — making the labor force smaller. 

Total nonfarm employment was one of the positives in the monthly report as nonfarm payrolls grew by 800 jobs over the year to 180,700 in January.

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"Professional-business services, educational-health services and financial activities all had employment gains over the year, which offset declines we saw in industries such as construction, manufacturing and government in the same period," he added.

Over the year, those sectors saw these changes: professional-business services, up 800; educational-health services, up 900; financial activities, up 300; construction/mining, down 700; manufacturing, down 400; and government, down 300.

As it has for months, the Quad-City region's unemployment rate was near the low end of Illinois' metro areas. The only regions with lower rates were  Bloomington, Champaign-Urbana and Springfield, all 6.1 percent; and Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, 5.8 percent.