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ATLANTA -- State labor officials say preliminary numbers show that metro Atlanta's unemployment rate rose to 8.4 percent in December -- up from 8 percent in November.

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The Georgia Department of Labor announced the new numbers early Thursday morning.

The 8.4 percent jobless rate is still under the 8.9 percent from this time last year.

State labor officials say the rate rose because of a combination of factors. They include a slight increase in initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits and an increase in the labor force, as more people began searching for work.

Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate at 6.6 percent.

The unemployment data for the metro areas is not seasonally adjusted.