The unemployment rate jumped to 7.4 percent in the county in December from 6.9 percent in November, the state Employment Development Department reported today.

December’s rate marked a year-over-year increase of 2.4 percent. The local rate compares with a 9.1 percent state unemployment rate and a 7.1 percent for the nation in December.

The biggest year-over-year loss came in the sector that includes retail employment. Retail lost 8,500 jobs in the region between December 2007 and December 2008. In that same period, construction lost 5,300 jobs.

On the positive side, education and health services added 3,100 jobs over the year.

Between November and December, payrolls at leisure and hospitality businesses shrunk by 1,100 jobs. Restaurants and bars cut 400 jobs and hotels cut 100. Arts, entertainment and recreation cut back by 600 jobs. (Over the same month, construction lost 900 jobs.)

Some job gains came between November and December, though not enough to offset the losses over the month. Retail added 300 jobs and air transportation added 500.


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