The unemployment rate for the York-Hanover area was unchanged in December and decreased one-tenth of a percentage point last year.

Statistics released Monday morning show the jobless rate held steady at 7.6 percent last month, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.

"It didn't drop that much during the year, but I'm more interested in what happened to the components that make up the labor force," said William Sholly, an analyst for the state department.

The local labor force increased by 6,300 people last year, he said.

That means more people found work last year than in 2011, and there were also more people actively looking for work, Sholly.

"Once there's more growth on the employed side, the unemployment rate will start to come down," he said.

How soon that will happen depends on business growth in York County, Sholly said.

"When you start to see temporary jobs turn into full-time, permanent work, that's usually a good indicator," he said.

That the jobless rate was unchanged in December isn't a bad thing, Sholly said.

In fact, much of the fluctuation last month was to be expected, he said.

While mining, logging and construction jobs decreased by 400 as colder weather arrived, retail jobs increased by 200 during the holiday shopping season.

Transportation, warehousing and utilities added 100 jobs in December, reaching a record high 10,300.

Jobs in professional and business services also increased, adding 400 jobs last month to reach a record high 20,200.

A warmer start to winter also likely contributed to December statistics, Sholly said.

The 100-job drop in the leisure and hospitality industry was probably due to places like Roundtop Mountain Resort and AvalancheXpress opening later because of higher temperatures, he said.

Both venues started their seasons on Dec. 31.

"We saw a similar pattern last year when we had a warmer winter," Sholly said.

- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.