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January 26-- The Georgia Department of Labor  announced today that the unemployment rate in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region in December was 6.6 percent, up three-tenths of a percentage point from 6.3 percent in November. In December 2015, the rate was 6.5 percent.

The rate rose as the number of unemployed residents, labor force and number of new layoffs increased.

There were 443 more unemployed residents and the labor force grew by 806 to 118,521.The labor force consists of employed residents and those who are unemployed, but actively looking for jobs.

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance rose by 551, or 37.8 percent, to 2,007 in December. Most of the increase came in administrative and support services, along with manufacturing and construction. Over the year, claims were down by 249, or 11 percent, from 2,256 in December 2015.

Metro Gainesville had the lowest area jobless rate at 4.2 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha and River Valley regions had the highest at 6.6 percent.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for December was 5.4 percent, up from 5.3 percent in November. It was 5.5 percent in December 2015.

Job seekers and employers are encouraged to use the GDOL’s online job listing service, employgeorgia.com to search for jobs or recruit new employers. In December, 555 new job openings in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region were posted on Employ Georgia. Throughout the state, 57,920 new job openings were posted.