Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate jumped to 8.4 percent in December from 8.0 percent in November as more people began searching for work, the state labor department said Thursday.
Atlanta’s labor force — those working as well as those looking for work — increased by 6,174. It rose from 2,749,348 in November to 2,755,522 in December. The new jobseekers are counted as unemployed until they find a job.
The unemployment rate also rose because there was a slight increase in initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits as employers laid off more workers, the state labor department said. The 115 new claims for benefits were in a variety of industries — construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and accommodations and food services.
While initial claims for jobless benefits increased from November to December, they were down by 18.3 percent from December 2011. That decline led to drop in the jobless rate from a year ago, when it was 8.9 percent.
For the core metro counties in December, Cobb and Gwinnett tied for the lowest rates at 7.6 percent. DeKalb was next with 8.9 percent, followed by Fulton at 9.3 percent and Clayton at 10.6 percent.
Metro Athens had the state’s lowest area jobless rate at 6.6 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 11.4 percent.
Last week, the labor department said Georgia’s unemployment rate increased to 8.6 percent in December from 8.5 percent in November. The rate was 9.4 percent in 2011.
Both the metro Atlanta and Georgia rates remain considerably higher than the national rate, currently 7.8 percent.