The District's unemployment rate held steady in September at 8.6 percent, despite a drop in the level of employment, the D.C. government said.

However, the unemployment rate for the metropolitan area rose from 4.0 percent in August to 4.1 percent in September, D.C. said. In the Washington suburbs, the unemployment rate increased from 3.0 percent to 3.1 percent in September. The rate nationally was 7.4 percent in September and October.

The increase in the metropolitan rate was attributed to a seasonal decline in public-sector jobs, which fell by 14,500 in September.

The unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

The number of employed in the District declined by 11,000, while the labor force also dropped by 12,300. The city attributed most of the decline in jobs to the ending of the summer jobs program.

In the past year, the District unemployment rate has dropped from 11.2 percent. Most of the new jobs were in business and legal services, membership organizations and in the hotel industry.

"The marked improvements in the District over the past year -- particularly in employment growth, job growth and unemployment -- is hard evidence that the city, like the nation, is finally feeling the effects of the economic recovery," said Employment Services Director Matthew Shannon. "We have increased dramatically our local job funding but we need a turnaround in federal policy to adequately address structural unemployment in the District."