Unemployment in the Rockford metro area dropped from 13.4 percent in March 2011 to 11.7 percent in March 2012 -- the largest decline in any Illinois metropolitan area – according to a government report released Thursday. Statewide unemployment dropped to 9.0 percent.
Unemployment in the city of Rockford also dropped 1.7 points, but it stands at 12.8 percent this year compared to 14.5 percent in March 2011.
The Rockford metro unemployment rate is the highest in the state. The lowest rate is in the Bloomington-Normal metro area at 6.7%. The DeKalb County rate fell 0.6 point to 8.4%
A pair of separate reports criticized proposed cuts to Illinois' Medicaid program. Governor Pat Quinn wants to reduce program spending by $2-billion dollars, and raise cigarette taxes to close the rest of the Medicaid budget shortfall.