DENVER - The unemployment rate in Boulder and Broomfield counties dropped in December, and Boulder County continues to have the lowest unemployment rate of Colorado's large counties, according to the latest labor report from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The rate in Boulder County dropped two-tenths of one percentage point in December to 5.5 percent as the county added 1,340 new jobs, the report said. In Broomfield, the rate dropped two-tenths of one percentage point to 6.6 percent. Employers in Broomfield added 240 jobs.

Both counties outperformed the state, which had a 7.6 percent unemployment rated, down from 7.7 percent in November. The number of non-farm payroll jobs in the state declined by 2,400. The decrease in the unemployment rate was caused by a larger increase in the number of people reporting their status as employed than in the number of people actively participating in the labor force, according to the department.

The national unemployment rate remained at 7.8 percent.

The only counties in Colorado with lower unemployment rates than Boulder County have workforces of fewer than 5,800 people. Boulder County's labor force is more than 180,000.

The unemployment rate is derived from a survey of households to see how many Coloradans have jobs. The number of jobs is determined by calling a much larger number of businesses and government agencies.