The department said the rate increased "as the number of jobs declined, while the number of new layoffs increased".
Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the US economy, declined by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 241,000 in the week ended March 11, the Labor Department said Thursday.
The labor force consists of employed residents and those who are unemployed, but actively looking for jobs. State-supplied comments in the report attributed the drop to layoffs in construction, administrative, support, waste management, and wholesale and retail trade industries.
Over the year, 114,700 jobs were added, a 2.7 percent growth rate, up from 4.32 million in January 2016, state labor officials said. Among the fields with a boost in employment: professional and business services and leisure and hospitality.
Continuing claims, the current number of individuals filing for unemployment insurance benefits, fell by 30,000 to 2,030,000 for the week ended March 4. Over the year, the number of people in the labor force increased by 10,259, as the number of employed grew by 9,236 and the number of unemployed increased by 1,023.
Metro Gainesville and the Georgia Mountains region had the lowest area jobless rate at 4.8 percent, while the Three Rivers region had the highest at 7.4 percent.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.5 percent for the week ended March 4.
The jobless rate jumped 1.2 percent in January in Whitfield County to 6.9 percent and rose in Murray County by 1 percentage point to 7.8 percent.
The department encourages job seekers and employers to use its online job listing service employgeorgia.com.
Decreases in new claims are typically an indication of an improving labor market as fewer individuals are losing jobs.
Photo at top: New job openings on display at Evanston restaurant.
Local area unemployment data are not seasonally-adjusted, the department said.