CHICAGO (AP) â¿¿ Illinois' unemployment rate held steady at 8.7 percent in December. Preliminary data released Thursday by the Illinois Department of Employment Security show there are 576,000 Illinois residents out of work. The rate doesn't reflect unemployed people who've quit looking for work. IDES Director Jay Rowell says the state's long-term trend is "moderate growth punctuated by monthly up-and-down movement in the unemployment rate and the number of people working." Rowell says the positive trend is threatened by continuing deliberations in Washington on the debt ceiling and the fiscal cliff. December's seasonally adjusted rate is 1 percentage point lower than December 2011. Illinois has added 167,000 private sector jobs since January 2010. That's when job growth started returning following almost two years of consecutive monthly declines.