The unemployment rate in the Chicago area fell to 8.6 percent in December from 9.3 percent a year earlier, but rose from 8.3 percent in November, seasonally unadjusted data from the Illinois Department of Employment Security shows.
The Chicago area added 37,800 jobs over December 2011, an improvement over the 33,700 added year-over-year in November, the agency said Friday.
The rate dropped year-over-year in nine of the state's 12 metropolitan areas, and payrolls increased in six.
"December marks another month that shows falling unemployment rates throughout our state," IDES Director Jay Rowell said in a statement. "The most pressing challenge to our economic progress is the uncertainty tied to Congress, the debt ceiling and the fiscal cliff."
The recovery could be compromised if Congress is not seen as working together on a solution to those issues, he added.
The report showed the biggest decline in the jobless rate was in the St. Louis area, which fell 1.5 points to 8.3 percent year-over-year.
The biggest spike came in the Decatur area, where the rate rose to 11.8 percent from 10.1 percent and was the highest in Illinois. The rate jumped because of temporary layoffs in manufacturing that ended in January.
The lowest jobless rate was in the Bloomington-Normal area, at 6.3 percent, down from 6.9 percent.
Following the Chicago area, the biggest job gains were in the Lake County-Kenosha area, which added 3,400 jobs; and the Champaign-Urbana area, which added 2,700.
The biggest job losses were in the Peoria area, down 3,000; and the Decatur area, down 1,900.