After increasing in February, Crawford County's unemployment rate tumbled in March.
The rate remained higher than a year ago, however, according to figures from Illinois Department of Employment Security Job Market Analyst Dennis Hoffman.
In March, 9.8 percent of the county's workforce was receiving unemployment benefits while actively seeking jobs, Hoffman said. This was down from the 12.1 percent rate reported in February, but still higher than the rate of 8.1 percent posted in March 2012.
Clark County again had the highest jobless rate in the immediate area. The March rate there was 11.2 percent, up from 10.5 percent last year, but down from 13.3 percent in February.
The Jasper County rate, at 9 percent, was up from 8.1 percent last year, but down from 11.1 percent a month earlier. Lawrence County's jobless rate was 8.4 percent. This was up from 7.8 percent in 2012, but down from 10 percent in February.
Unemployment rates increased in most counties in south-central Illinois compared to one year ago, Hoffman said.
"Poor weather conditions delayed construction activity as well as seasonal employment expansions in retail trade and leisure/hospitality," he explained. "Government payrolls continued a steady downward trend. Employment in health services continued to increase. Payroll advances were reported in professional/business services, transportation, wholesale trade and financial activities.
"Employment opportunities in health care and medical support occupations continued to lead the way in early 2013. Job opportunities were available in food services, sales, transportation, management, computer operations, engineering, production occupations and building and grounds maintenance," he added.
Meanwhile, in Indiana, Vigo County posted a 11.2-percent unemployment rate in March. This was up from 9.7 percent last year and changed only slightly from the 11.4-percent rate reported in March.
Sullivan County's rate was 11.4 percent, up from 10.2 percent a year earlier, but down from 12.5 percent in February. Knox County reported a rate of 7.1 percent. This was up from 6.3 percent in March 2012, but down from 7.6 percent a month earlier.
The average statewide unemployment rate for Illinois in March was 9.4 percent. This was up from 9 percent in 2012, but down from 10.4 percent in February. The Indiana rate was 9.1 percent. This was up from 8.6 percent last year, but down from 9.3 percent the previous month.
Nationally, the March unemployment rate was 7.6 percent. This was down from 8.4 percent in 2012 and 7.7 percent in February.