ATLANTA (AP) — State labor officials say preliminary numbers show that metro Atlanta's unemployment rate rose to 8.4 percent in December -- up from 8 percent in November.
The Georgia Department of Labor announced the new numbers early Thursday morning.
The 8.4 percent jobless rate is still under the 8.9 percent from this time last year.
State labor officials say the rate rose because of a combination of factors. They include a slight increase in initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits and an increase in the labor force, as more people began searching for work.
Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate at 6.6 percent.
The unemployment data for the metro areas is not seasonally adjusted.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in five years, a positive sign that layoffs have fallen and hiring may pick up.
The drop may also reflect the difficulty the government has in seasonally adjusting its data to account for layoffs after the holiday shopping season.
Here are the states with the biggest changes in applications. The state level data are for the week ended Jan. 12, one week behind the national data.
States with the biggest increases:
New York: Down 27,487, due to fewer layoffs in transportation, construction and educational service industries
Georgia: Down 7,520, due to fewer layoffs in manufacturing, wholesale trade and construction
North Carolina: Down 5,541, due to fewer layoffs in textiles, business services, construction and transportation and warehousing
Alabama: Down 4,245, due to fewer layoffs in textiles, construction and manufacturing
Wisconsin: Down 3,183, no reason given
South Carolina: Down 2,686, due to fewer layoffs in manufacturing
States with the biggest decreases:
Texas: Up 12,786, no reason given
California: Up 10,232, due to layoffs in services and agriculture
Florida: Up 7,314, due to layoffs in construction, services and manufacturing
Indiana: Up 4,266, due to layoffs in manufacturing and retail
New Jersey: Up 3,570, due to layoffs in the health care and administrative support industries
New Mexico: Up 2,125, no reason given
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.