Jobless rates increased in metro Gainesville in December, breaking a half-year-long streak of decreased or stagnant unemployment rates.
Gainesville's unemployment rate rose to 8.0 percent last month, up from 7.7 in November. According to the Georgia Department of Labor statistics, metro Gainesville's non-seasonably adjusted rate increased because "there were fewer employed residents and the number of jobs declined by 200" - half of those were state government jobs and the rest from private service-related industries.
The rate did catch Kit Dunlap, president of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, by surprise, given that conventional wisdom says more retail outlets hire during Christmas.
In reality, retail jobs remained flat in metro Gainesville from November to December, said John Ard, spokesman for the state Department of Labor.
Despite her surprise, Dunlap said small up-and-down adjustments are to be expected.
"It's not a whole lot to be concerned with," she said. "I do think 2012 will be a good year for business."
Metro Gainesville's rate, while rising for the first time since June, was still better than the December 2010 rate of 8.8.
Georgia Mountains' jobless rate also increased from 8.1 percent in November to 8.4 percent in December. Neither of those regional rates are seasonally adjusted.
Those regions followed a trend in which all metro regions in Georgia saw an increase in unemployment in December.
Ard said unemployment increased in 118 counties, remained unchanged in 18 and dropped in 23.
Meanwhile, the state's seasonally adjusted rate declined in December to 9.7 percent from 9.8 in November. That makes three months in a row of declining unemployment in the state.
Ard said the difference between the state's declining rate with regional increases can be explained by seasonable adjustments.
Those adjustments are meant to exclude seasonal factors in job fluctuation — such as younger people joining the job market in the summer and declines in construction jobs in the winter — to calculate overall trends in the job market.
Statewide jobless numbers are reported with seasonable adjustments, whereas regional rates are not.
The state Department of Labor reported Georgia's rate declined "because 11,500 Georgians went back to work in December" with 600 new construction job and 400 new manufacturing jobs.