The Georgia Department of Labor has released regional labor numbers for December, and the Georgia Mountains region added to its job force while recording a small increase in the unemployment rate.
Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday the 13-county region also recorded an increase in the annual number of employed residents.
"Georgia finished the year strong by continuing to add jobs in all major sectors," Butler said. "Moving forward, we need to attract more people to the workforce, so we can fill these great jobs."
In the region, the December unemployment rate increased by 0.1 percentage points to 2.4 percent. It was 3.1 percent one year ago.
The labor force increased in December by 164 to reach 351,286 total members. The number has climbed by 1,585 over the past 12 months.
The Georgia Mountains region lost 160 employed residents in December, bringing its total to 342,837. That number has grown by 4,045 over the past year.
Initial claims for unemployment went up by about 65 percent in December. They are up by about 76 percent when compared to last year.
Butler said he was not concerned about the increase in the jobless rate, attributing the uptick to what he called a "calendar issue."
"A lot of these new claims for unemployment benefits were not permanent layoffs - they were actually temporary shutdowns in manufacturing," Butler said. "Then, this year because of the week where Thanksgiving actually fell, it actually pushed some claims that we would normally see in the month of November over into December."
Employ Georgia, the GDOL’s online job listing service at employgeorgia.com showed 2,671 active job postings in the Georgia Mountains region for December.
The Georgia Mountains region includes Banks, Dawson, Forsyth, Franklin, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Lumpkin, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, and White counties.