RICHMOND, Va. (CBSDC/AP)— Virginia’s unemployment rate dipped in December to 5.5 percent, the lowest jobless number in four years.

The seasonally adjusted rate announced Friday is down a fraction of a percentage point from November, still good enough to make December the third consecutive month that joblessness has declined.

The state’s overall unemployment rate is below the national average of 7.8 percent. Nationally, unemployment rates fell in 22 states and rose in 16, while they were unchanged in 12.

The Virginia Employment Commission reports job gains statewide in the financial sector and in manufacturing. They offset losses in professional and business services, trade and transportation and leisure and hospitality.

Gov. Bob McDonnell called the December rate “great news” for the state. He said it means more Virginia families have financial security and that businesses are continuing to grow.

McDonnell credited the state’s pro-business climate and conservative fiscal policies.

Meanwhile, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray says he’s disappointed by an increase in the city’s unemployment rate.

Labor Department figures released Friday show that the district had an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent in December, up one-tenth of a percentage point from November.

Before December, the district’s unemployment rate had fallen in nine consecutive months, and Gray had touted the decline as a sign that his administration’s job-creation policies were working.

But Gray says the slight increase shouldn’t overshadow the overall growth in the city’s economy. The district added 2,900 jobs in December, and one year ago, the unemployment rate was 10.1 percent.

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(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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