Washington state's Employment Security Department released the county unemployment data for December 2012 this morning, with several South Sound counties showing increases in the jobless rate.

Pierce County saw a December unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, half a percentage point up from November. Thurston's 7.4 percent unemployment rate likewise saw a 0.5 percent bump from November to December. Mason County's jobless rate came in at 10.2 percent, up 1 percent from November, and Lewis County's 12.1 percent figure is 0.7 percent higher than the previous month.

The jobless increases between November and December reflect trends that have held steady for the previous three years. However, when compared to December 2011, all four counties listed ended 2012 with lower December unemployment rates, signaling continued recovery within the regional job market.

Pierce County's December 2012 unemployment rate was 0.8 percent lower than December 2011's 9.3 percent. Thurston County saw a 0.6 percent decrease from December 2011's 8 percent unemployment to December 2012's rate. Lewis County's jobless rate dipped 1.4 percent from December 2011 to December 2012, and Mason County saw a 0.7 percent slide.

Unemployment rates at the county level are not seasonally adjusted because the sample size is too small to accommodate that additional analysis. For comparison, Washington state's seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate for December sits at 7.7 percent.