Illinois jobless rate drops below 6% in February

CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the state's unemployment rate fell below 6 percent in February.

The drop to 5.4 percent leaves Illinois' jobless rate at its lowest since late 2007. Preliminary numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released by the department Thursday indicate 25,600 nonfarm jobs were added to Illinois' economy last month.

Aircraft demand leads rise in durable goods orders in February

WASHINGTON (AP) — Greater demand for commercial aircraft helped U.S. businesses increase their orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in February, but a key category that tracks business investment plans slipped slightly.

Woe for stores as shoppers look online for clothes

NEW YORK (AP) — Erica Dao used to shop at malls once a month, looking in stores and seeing what the mannequins displayed. Now, she mainly looks for inspiration on social media.

"I discover brands through Instagram," said Dao, 33, of St. Paul, Minnesota.

17,000 AT&T workers return to their jobs

NEW YORK (AP) — Some 17,000 AT&T workers in California and Nevada are returning to their jobs after a one-day walkout. They had been protesting changes in job duties for some employees.

New-home sales rise despite higher mortgage rates

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans responded to higher mortgage rates by snapping up new homes in February at the fastest pace since July.

Home sales and prices both up in February

CHAMPAIGN — Home sales increased in February compared to a year ago, signaling an early start to the spring market.

According to the Champaign County Association of Realtors, 135 homes were sold, up 5.5 percent from 128 a year ago, the best year in a decade.

Of the homes sold, 49 were in Champaign and 29 were in Urbana.

Owner of World Harvest, Strawberry Fields merging his markets

URBANA — Two familiar local brands will move into one space next month, when World Harvest becomes Strawberry Fields' next-door neighbor at 306 W. Springfield Ave., Urbana.

17,000 AT&T workers strike over job duties

NEW YORK (AP) — A union representing AT&T workers says about 17,000 employees in California and Nevada have gone on strike over a change in some of their job duties.

The Communications Workers of America said they went on strike Wednesday morning. The union plans to file an unfair labor charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

Sears has 'substantial doubt' about its future

NEW YORK (AP) — Sears, once the monolith of American retail, says that there is "substantial doubt" that it will be able to keep its doors open.

Company shares, which hit an all-time low last month, tumbled more than 12 percent Wednesday.

Home sales slow in February after surge in January

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans retreated from buying existing homes in February, a pullback after sales in January had surged to the fastest pace in a decade. But over the past 12 months, sales are up solidly.