North Carolina's unemployment rate increased slightly in December as the size of the labor force also increased.
    
The state Commerce Department said Friday the rate was 9.2 percent in December, compared with 9.1 percent in November. That's down from 10.4 percent in December 2011.
    
Overall, North Carolina's rate dropped in 2012. The state started the year with a 10.2 percent rate last January.
    
The labor force also grew by about 17,000 in December.
    
Meanwhile, weekly applications for unemployment benefits increased in North Carolina for the week ending Jan. 5, even as applications dropped sharply nationally to a five-year low.
    
Applications increased by nearly 14,000 because of layoffs in textiles, business services, construction, furniture and transportation equipment.