Unemployment stagnated in Tennessee and edged up in Georgia at the end of last year.
Tennessee's jobless rate in December was unchanged at 7.6 percent -- the lowest rate in more than four years.
In Georgia, the jobless rate rose one-tenth of a percent to 8.6 percent in December after falling for the previous three months also to a four-year low.
The sluggish December job market mirrored the U.S. economy, which ended last year with unemployment unchanged for the month at 7.8 percent.
Although unemployment remains at stubbornly high rates two years after the recession bottomed out in 2010, state officials said jobs are coming back, especially in manufacturing and building.
The Tennessee Department of Employment Security said Thursday that Tennessee employers added 6,000 jobs during December, when seasonally adjusted, and 36,400 jobs over the past year.
The 1.4 percent growth in employment across Tennessee during 2012 was only half the pace of most economic recoveries with net job losses last year in both educational and financial service sectors.
But in the past year, Tennessee added 12,200 jobs in manufacturing and 4,200 jobs in construction.
The number of unemployed Tennesseans, 235,700, was the lowest since October 2008.
Unemployment rose slightly across Georgia last month as layoffs rose at the end of 2012. But Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said most of the layoffs were seasonal education job cuts.
"Basically, the December numbers are flat, but even so, this is the best November to December job market report since 2007," Butler said in a statement Thursday. "Our economy has definitely improved in the past year."
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said manufacturing employment at the end of 2012 was the highest since April 2009 with the addition of 15,000 factory jobs since the low point of the recession two years ago.
"After years of decline, the growth we've had over the past two years indicates that Georgia's manufacturing base is alive and beginning to thrive again," Deal said in a statement. "This is a great step closer to making Georgia the No. 1 place in the country to do business."
While the number of jobs decreased by 400 in December to just under 4 million in Georgia, employment over the past year in the state was still up by 70,200 jobs, or 1.8 percent.