05/03/2012 11:31 am ET Updated Nov 13, 2012

Illinois Long-Term Unemployment Benefits Ending As Jobless Rate Falls

As the Illinois unemployment rate continues to fall, Gov. Pat Quinn and other state lawmakers have been celebrating. But the rosy numbers are bad news for some Illinoisans -- specifically those who have been out of a job for more than 79 weeks.

On Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced that an Extended Benefits program that started assisting the long-term unemployed in 2009 will end May 12 due to the falling jobless rate, according to the Associated Press.

“Today’s news demonstrates the significant progress our economy has made, but there are still those struggling to find work,” IDES Director Jay Rowell told WIFR. “I encourage anyone who is unemployed or underemployed to visit where they will find more than 90,000 job openings.”

The state was able to take advantage of the federally funded benefits program when its unemployment rate was 10 percent higher than the three-month average in any of the last three years, the Rockford Register Star reports. Since the rate has been trending downward, those using the program will get their last check in late May.

In March, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the biggest month-over-month job gains were made in the areas of professional and business services, leisure and hospitality and financial activities. The biggest job losses were reported in the areas of educational and health service and trade, transportation and utilities.

Illinois has reportedly added 142,100 jobs since January 2010, when the state began to recover after 23 straight months of decline.

Though progress is being made, there are still many people looking for jobs. University of Illinois economist Fred Giertz told Fox Chicago that the recovery has been "painfully slow."

"The Illinois unemployment rate (while declining) is still really high both by historical standards and also in comparison with the U.S. rate," he told the station "The job growth from last month is practically zero and there is little growth from one year ago."