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    MORE: State jobless rate falls to lowest since October 2008

    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia's jobless rate fell to 4.8 percent in December, marking the state's lowest unemployment rate since October 2008, state and federal officials said Tuesday.

    The Virginia Employment Commission said the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was down from 5 percent in November and down from 5.2 percent a year ago.

    The state's unadjusted jobless rate remained unchanged at 4.5 percent in December.

    Virginia has seen jobless rates of 4.9 percent during several months over the last year. But the last time the rate went below that was in October 2008 when it was 4.5 percent.

    In a news release, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he welcomed the news about the "strength of the new Virginia economy," but he said there are still challenges to overcome.

    "We must continue to strengthen our infrastructure, our business climate, our workforce, our innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystems and our key growth sectors to keep this momentum going," McAuliffe said.

    During December, the number of Virginians looking for work declined by more than 9,000, while household employment increased by nearly 3,460 people.

    Job gains were seen in six major industries: leisure and hospitality, total government, trade and transportation, private education and health services, manufacturing and mining. Job losses were recorded in five other industries: construction, miscellaneous services, professional and business services, finance and information.

    Nonfarm employment increased in December in the metropolitan areas of northern Virginia, Roanoke, Charlottesville, Richmond, Lynchburg and Harrisonburg, as well as the area that includes Blacksburg and Danville. Areas that include Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Newport News, as well as Winchester all saw nonfarm employment decrease.

    According to the U.S. Labor Department, unemployment rates fell in 42 states in December, rose in four states and were unchanged in four. The national unemployment rate was 5.6 percent.

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