Unemployment in the Washington metropolitan area continued to decline in May, dropping to 4.5 percent from 4.6 percent in April and 5.2 percent in May, 1977, the D.C. Manpower Department reported.

At the same time, joblessness among District residents increased in May to 8 per cent from 7.7 percent in April, but was down sharply from the figure of 10.2 percent in May a year ago, the department's seasonally adjusted figures showed. The area unemployment rate remains below the national rate, which was 6.1 percent in May.

The largest gains in area employment were in the government sector (up by 2,800 jobs), wholesale and retail trade (2,600) and construction (2.000). Overall, area employment increased by 12,100 jobs since April.

In the last year, employment of area residents has increased by 13,000 while unemployment has declined by 12,600. D.C. residents accounted for over half the increase in employment (6,900) and the decrease in unemployment (7,100). With virtually no change in the size of the District's labor force, the unemployment rate in the District dropped by 2.2 points since May, 1977.

In May, area employment increased by 12,100 and unemployment dropped by 1,800 as the labor force increase by 10,400. In the District, employment dropped by 100 and unemployment increased by 700 during the month as 600 people joined the labor force.

The unadjusted figures showed slightly less unemployment, as a seasonal expansion of jobs in construction and other areas kept ahead of a seasonal expansion in workers when students join the labor force.

The unadjusted rate of unemployment in the area was 4.3 percent in May compared with 4.4 percent in April and 5.1 percent in May, 1977.

For the District, the figures were 7.7 percent in May compared with 7.5 percent in April and 9.8 percent in May, 1977.