Orange County's estimated unemployment rate for December 2011 dipped below 8 percent for the first time in nearly two years.
About 7.8 percent of the county was looking for jobs last month, according to numbers released Friday by the state Employment Development Department.
February 2009 is the last time the unemployment rate was that low in Orange County.
December's preliminary unemployment estimate is down from a , and below the year-ago estimate of 9 percent.
In was unemployed. The previous month, . The number of Orange County workers without a job has been on a downward trend since July.
Between November and December 2011, Orange County gained 1,300 jobs.
Professional and business services reported the largest overall growth in Orange County in December with the addition of 2,300 jobs.
According to the EDD, the loss of 1,300 government jobs—the largest month-over decline—can be largely attributed to "seasonal cutbacks in local government education as a result of holiday and semester breaks."
The county's unemployment rate is far below that of the state, which recorded 10.9 percent unemployment in December 2011, but only 0.5 percent below the 8.3 percent unemployment rate nationwide.