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After hitting its lowest level in four years, Georgia’s unemployment rate rose in December to 8.6 percent. That was only a 0.1 percent increase from 8.5 percent in November, but it reversed a trend of downward unemployment levels that had become a trend in the state.

Officials in the Georgia Labor Department said that the increase was due, at least partially to an increase in layoffs.

“The unemployment rate ticked up slightly because of a combination of factors,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “We had a modest increase in new layoffs, along with a small job loss driven primarily by seasonal layoffs in education.”

Butler added, “our economy has definitely improved in the past year.” In December 2011, the jobless rate was 9.4 percent.

Georgia’s unemployment rate is still significantly higher than the national rate of 7.8 percent and the number of initial claims for unemployment insurance in Georgia went up by 7.4 percent from November to December.

Numbers are still significantly down from where they were last year. The number of jobs decreased by 400 from November to December, totaling 3,985,800. It rose, however, by 1.8 percent compared with December 2011.

“In December, there were 362,800 manufacturing jobs in Georgia, which is the most since April 2009,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in a statement.

The number of long-term unemployed workers declined by 7,600 to 195,000 in December — its lowest level in 34 months. The long-term unemployed—those out of work for more than 26 weeks — make up 47.1 percent of those unemployed in Georgia, which is a historically high proportion.

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