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Metro Gainesville, state jobless rates increase
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The economic woes that have sent the U.S. economy teetering toward recession may be finding their way to Northeast Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the unemployment rate in the metro Gainesville area rose to 3.6 percent in December, up 0.3 percent from the November rate of 3.3 percent.

That rate remains below the 3.9 percent jobless rate in the Georgia Mountains area and the state’s unemployment rate of 4.6 percent. Both the state’s and metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate shot up four-tenths of a percent in December, with the metro Atlanta rate reaching 4.4 percent.

All are under the national unemployment rate of 4.8 percent.

Labor Department data showed that the state added 4,100 payroll jobs from November to December, primarily among seasonal workers in retail trade. In Gainesville, the number of jobs was up 100, or 0.1 percent, from 76,700 to 76,800.

The state’s rate increased in December because the number of people unemployed rose by 19,630. That was due mainly to job losses in manufacturing, construction and some service-related industries, combined with modest job creation, the Labor Department reported.

"The magnitude of the November to December increase is troubling," said state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. "This represents the largest statewide increase for that time period in over 30 years."

The report comes amid reports that an economic stimulus package of tax rebates and other incentives may be passed soon by the U.S. Congress to spark consumer spending. Financial markets have been in turmoil throughout the week over concerns that the economy is on the brink of recession.