The unemployment rate dropped in five area counties and remained the same in one other county in December, the state Department of Labor and Industry said.
Bedford County saw the greatest improvement, dropping from 9.3 percent in November to 8.9 percent in December.
One year ago, the jobless rate in Bedford County was at 10.6 percent.
The drop in the unemployment rate is good news, Executive Director Bette Slayton of the Bedford County Development Association said.
"We are pleased to see that it is trending in the right direction. This news corresponds with what we're hearing from our employers. There is cautious optimism that the economy is showing signs of improvement," Slayton said. "We are hopeful that 2012 will show improvement over the past few years."
The unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point in both Blair and Centre counties.
Blair's rate dropped from 6.9 percent in November to 6.7 percent in December. Over the year, Blair's unemployment rate has dropped seven-tenths of a percentage point.
Blair's unemployment rate remains below Pennsylvania's rate of 7.6 percent and the national rate of 8.5 percent.
"What we are seeing statewide is 55 counties went down, ten stayed the same and the rate went up in two," DLI Industry and Business Analyst Christopher Magaro said. "In Blair County, the number of seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs is up for the third consecutive month and was up eight months in 2011."
Centre County's unemployment rate dropped from 5.3 percent in November to 5.1 percent in December.
Centre County maintains the lowest jobless rate of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, while Cameron County has the highest rate at 11.5 percent.
The unemployment rate dropped by one-tenth of a percentage point in both Huntingdon and Cambria counties.
Huntingdon's rate dropped from 9.2 percent in November to 9.1 percent in December and over the past year the jobless rate has dropped 1.4 percentage points.
Cambria County's rate dropped from 8.3 percent in November to 8.2 percent in December. Cambria's rate has dropped one percentage point over the past year.
The jobless rate remained at 8.4 percent in Clearfield County but the county's rate has dropped 1.6 percentage points in the last year.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.