Montpelier — The Vermont Department of Labor announced today that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December 2008 was 6.4 percent, up seven-tenths of a point from the revised November rate and up 2.5 points from a year ago. The nation s job market deteriorated sharply in the fourth quarter and especially in December, said Patricia Moulton Powden, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Labor. New estimation procedures indicate that Vermont s job market followed those national trends.The preliminary estimates of nonfarm jobs for December, and the revisions to the estimates for November, reflect substantive changes made in estimation procedures. These new procedures are designed to bring the aggregate monthly change in jobs for individual states into closer alignment with the change in national job counts reflected in the estimates produced and published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result of these changes, the November and December 2008 estimates are not totally comparable to previous months’ data. This will be resolved with the release of revised (benchmarked) numbers for 2007 and 2008 that will be published in March of 2009. For details of these changes, please contact Andy Condon at the Vermont Department of Labor at 802-828-4153 or email@example.com(link sends e-mail).Job GrowthBefore seasonal adjustment, Total Non-Farm (TNF) jobs increased by 1,700 or 0.6% from November to December. An increase is typically expected as we move into the height of the holiday season and the beginning of the winter recreation season. However, the observed job increase was smaller than expected resulting in an annual loss of -6,000 jobs or -1.9%. The largest monthly seasonal increase was observed in Leisure & Hospitality, (4,250 or 14.3%). This was enough to keep annual job growth in the sector slightly positive. Large and unexpected monthly loses were seen in Construction (-1,250 or -8.2%), Retail Trade (-350 or -0.9%) and Other Services, (-450 or -4.6%).When seasonally adjusted, December job levels declined by -2,400 or -0.8% over November and by -5,800 or -1.9% from December of 2007. Only Leisure and Hospitality showed a seasonally adjusted increase in jobs over the month, (+500 or 1.5%).Employment GrowthVermont s unemployment rate grew to 6.4 percent in December as a result of a sharp increase in the number of unemployed (+2,500 to 22,700) and a corresponding decrease in employed Vermonters (-2,500 to 334,200). Vermont s observed December seasonally adjusted employment, unemployment levels and unemployment rate were statistically significant. For comparison purposes, the US seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 7.2 percent, up four-tenths of a point from November 2008. Unemployment rates for Vermont s 17 labor market areas ranged from 3.3% percent in Hartford to 9.8% percent in Newport. Local labor market area unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted. For comparison, the December unadjusted unemployment rate for Vermont was 6.0 percent, up six-tenths of a point from November 2008 and up 2.3 points from a year ago.