The Georgia Department of Labor announced this week that the preliminary unemployment rate in the Northwest Georgia area rose to 9.7 percent in December, up one-tenth of a percentage point from 9.6 percent in November. The jobless rate in Northwest Georgia in December a year ago was 10.9 percent.

Metro Athens and Warner Robins had the lowest area rates at 7.3 percent, while metro Dalton had the highest at 12.1 percent.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined in December for the third straight month, dropping to 9.7 percent, down from a revised 9.8 percent in November. The jobless rate was 10.4 percent in December a year ago.

The state rate declined because 11,500 Georgians went back to work in December. Statewide, there were 600 new construction jobs, and manufacturing grew by 400 jobs. Job gains also came in information services and trade and transportation.