CHICAGO (AP) -- Illinois' unemployment rate hit 9.1 percent in March, the highest it's been in almost 24 years.
That compares to 8.6 percent last month and marks the sixth month in a row with an increase.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security says 27,400 more Illinoisans lost jobs in March. Almost half were in manufacturing.
The total number of unemployed now stands at 596,000, the most since September 1983.
The national unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in March.
IDES Director Maureen O'Donnell says her office is encouraging laid-off workers to use their time to learn new skills so they can get a better job once the economy improves.