Holiday hiring drove down the unemployment rate for Augusta in November.
The Georgia Department of Labor reported Thursday that the preliminary unemployment rate in metro Augusta declined to 8.5 percent in November, down from 8.6 percent in October.
The rate was 8.8 percent in November 2011.
The state said the rate declined because of job growth and fewer new layoffs, represented by first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits.
There were 1,600 new jobs in metro Augusta in November, mostly in retail trade.
There were also 355 fewer new claims for unemployment benefits in construction, manufacturing, retail trade, and administrative and support services, according to state data.
The rate in Edgefield, Columbia and Richmond counties were unchanged from October. Aiken and McDuffie counties had declines ,and Burke County saw an increase in the jobless rate.
Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate at 6.2 percent, while metro Dalton had the highest at 11 percent.