HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate fell to a new record low in December, dropping below 4% for the first time since record-keeping began, according to figures released Friday.

Payrolls and the workforce grew, but remain below pre-pandemic record levels.

The rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.9% from November's rate, the state Department of Labor and Industry said in a news release.

The national rate was 3.5% in December, as the number of people seeking unemployment benefits in the U.S. reached a four-month low last week, a sign that employers are holding on to their workers despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts to tamp down inflation.

In a survey of Pennsylvania households, the labor force grew by 9,000 to above 6.4 million, as the number of employed grew and the number of unemployed fell.

The state’s labor force continues to rebound after falling during the COVID-19 pandemic. It hit a record high of almost 6.6 million just before the pandemic hit, and still remains below 2020's levels.

In a separate survey of employers, non-farm payrolls in Pennsylvania grew in December by 17,000, driven primarily by hiring in construction and professional and business services.

At just above 6 million, payrolls continue to rebound after hitting a record high of nearly 6.1 million just before the pandemic, according to state figures.

Pennsylvania has regained more than 90% of the 1.1 million jobs lost in the early months of the pandemic, figures show.

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