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The unemployment rate in the Quad-Cities fell to 4.2 percent as of December, marking a 1.1 percent drop from December of 2016 when the unemployment rate stood at 5.3 percent.

The Quad-Cities joined all of Illinois’ metropolitan areas that saw unemployment rates decrease over-the-year for the seventh consecutive month, according to a report issued Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Quad-City Metropolitan Statistical Area gained 1,300 non-farm jobs year-over-year, going from 184,100 non-farm jobs in December 2016 to 185,400 in December 2017.

A big part of that gain in non-farm jobs was due to education-health services and construction, said Tom Austin of the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

“Jobs in education-health services had the largest gains, followed by construction,” Austin said. “The education-health industry has been expanding over the year.

“Construction is somewhat unique for this time of year,” he said. “The warmer weather has allowed work on projects to continue.” The numbers likely reflect the amount of work being done on the new Interstate 74 Bridge.

In the Quad-Cities, educational-health services gained 900, and construction added 800 compared to December 20126. Manufacturing added another 300.

However, retail trade had an employment decline of 300. Leisure-hospitality and government each record employment declines of 300, as well.

“We’ve been seeing the decline in retail trades throughout 2017,” Austin said.

In looking at the available labor force, there also has been a decline, he said.

Austin said Illinois has seen both a decline in the number of people unemployed, as well as a decline in the number of people employed.

Many declines throughout the year have been seen in manufacturing industries and professional business services.

Those people not looking for work are not included in the unemployment calculations.

“People are leaving the labor force for different reasons,” Austin said. “They may be at home taking care of a relative or they may have moved away to a different area.

“We’re certainly seeing more retirements,” he added. “We’re seeing the Baby Boom generation leaving the labor force.”

However, he said, there are always ebbs and flows in the labor force.

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