RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s unemployment rate rose to 4.5 percent in December, its highest level in seven months and well above the national average of 4.1 percent.

Data released Tuesday by the state Commerce Department show North Carolina’s jobless rate was last this high in May and had fallen to 4.1 percent in October to match the national level.

Both the number of employed North Carolinians and those sidelined but looking for work increased in December.

The number of unemployed increased by nearly 8,800 in December compared with the previous month. About 12,000 fewer people were working over the month.

The downbeat end to 2017 runs counter in a year that companies added 75,000 Total non-farm jobs.

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