New York’s unemployment rate hit 9% in December, according to seasonally adjusted data released by the state Department of Labor last week.

The rate increased four-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month and was the state’s highest since 1983.

Meanwhile, New York City’s jobless rate hit 10.6%, the highest level in 16 years. Nationally, unemployment didn’t change in December, remaining at 10%.

“In December 2009, New York State’s unemployment rate remained well below the nation’s rate, while employers in the state cut jobs over the past year at a more modest pace than those in the [rest of the] U.S.,” said Peter Neenan, director of the Labor Department’s division of research and statistics. “Experience suggests that the unemployment rate may continue to increase in the early stages of an economic recovery as some firms are slow to hire new workers and job seekers re-enter the labor force.”

The number of unemployed state residents rose by 36,400 to 868,600 in December compared to November.

New York has lost 229,000 jobs since the start of the downturn and won’t return to the most recent peak level of employment until fiscal 2014, according to projections released last week by Gov. David Paterson’s office. State income tax revenue won’t return to fiscal 2007 levels until fiscal 2013, according to the governor’s projections.

Between December 2008 and December 2009, the educational and health services sectors actually added 44,800 jobs, while professional and business services lost 40,300 and financial services shed 30,700.

New York City Comptroller John Liu said government should take steps to combat the city’s unemployment rate.

“We must put New Yorkers back to work by requiring that city contracts contain mechanisms for the creation of decent jobs, forcing Wall Street to redirect some profits resulting from taxpayer bailouts back into local communities, and implementing federal tax credits for small businesses who hire new workers,” Liu said in a statement.

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