Unemployment rose slightly across Georgia last month as layoffs rose at the end of 2012.
But the Georgia Department of Labor said today the 8.6 percent jobless rate in December was still well below the 9.4 percent unemployment rate a year earlier and last month was the best year-end job market in Georgia in five years.
"We had a modest increase in new layoffs, along with a small job loss driven primarily by seasonal layoffs in education," said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. "Basically, the December numbers are flat, but even so, this is the best November to December job market report since 2007."
Georgia's jobless rate continued to exceed the U.S. unemployment rate, which was 7.8 percent in December.
But 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 today. "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.
Most of the over-the-year job growth came in professional and business services, 26,000; trade, transportation, and warehousing, 17,300; education and health care, 12,700; leisure and hospitality, 12,100; and manufacturing 11,800.
"Our economy has definitely improved in the past year," Butler said.