The Knox County jobless rate continued its rise in December, reaching 8 percent, according to the Maine Department of Labor.

This was the highest December rate for the local region since 1983.

The state reported that the number of people working in Knox County during December was 18,680, down 810 from a year ago. The 8 percent rate compares with 7.6 percent in November 2009 and 6.8 percent in December 2008.

The number of people listed as unemployed was 1,640, up 220 from a year ago.

The last time the jobless rate was this high for December was in 1983 when it reached 10.1 percent during the end of the recession of the early 1980s.

The Knox County rate in December was less than the 8.2 percent statewide rate. Unemployment rates in Maine ranged from a low of 6.4 percent in Cumberland County to a high of 11.8 percent in Piscataquis County.

The unemployment rate in Lincoln County was 8.1 percent in December. This was up from 6.8 percent a year ago. In Waldo County, the rate was 9.8 percent, up from 8.3 percent a year ago.

The Department of Labor stated in a news release that the greatest job gains from November were in the areas of education and health care as well as leisure and hospitality. The largest job losses were in retail trade, manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and utilities, and professional and business services.

“Although the unemployment rate was up 0.3 percent, the rate of nonfarm job loss has abated in recent months both nationally and in Maine,” Department of Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said.