By TERRY TALBERT
Washington County's jobless rate increased from 4.4 percent in December to 5.6 percent in January, according to figures released by the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
The unemployment rate for the state as a whole rose from 4.2 percent to 4.8 percent during the same period, while the national rate rose by almost a full percentage point, to 5.9 percent.
Seasonal post-holiday and weather-related layoffs were the culprit, state officials said.
"An increase in the unemployment rate is a normal trend during January," said agency Secretary Eugene A. Conti Jr. "The good news is that we maintained a record high employment level for the month, and continue to be more than a full percentage point lower than the national unemployment rate and more than a full percentage point below last year's January level."