The Illinois unemployment rate fell in July for the fifth consecutive month to reach 6.8 percent, a drop from 9.2 percent one year ago, according to preliminary data released Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

The drop from 9.2 percent one year ago marks the largest year-over-year decline since 1984. The last time the rate was lower than 6.8 was in August 2008 when it was 6.7. There are 35,600 more jobs than one year ago in the state, the report shows.

“The falling unemployment rate seems to be picking up momentum with the warmer weather. That is encouraging even though we know there still is room for improvement,” Department of Employment Security Director Jay Rowell said. “The unevenness in this recovery masks the very promising news of averaging more than 4,400 new jobs each month during the past four years. We need to build on that job growth so that we can help others.”

The Quad-Cities' unemployment rate stood at 6.2 percent in June, its lowest rate for the month since 2008. It had been 7 percent in June 2013. The July rate for the Quad-City metropolitan area will be released later this month.

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Tom Austin, a labor analyst with the state department, said the Quad-City unemployment rate fell from 7 percent in June 2013. The last time the June rate was equal or lower was when it was 5.1 percent in 2008.