Joblessness levels in Maryland and Virginia have been notable for their steadiness of late. Things are more volatile in the District.

According to Labor Department data released Friday, unemployment in Maryland was 4.3 percent in June, just as it had been in the previous two months. In Virginia, that level was 3.6 percent, also unchanged from April and May.

In the District, joblessness was 7.5 percent in June, down from 7.9 percent in May.

The good news is that unemployment is down sharply from the recent peak of 8.8 percent reached in December. The bad news is that while joblessness in the United States as a whole (and in Maryland and Virginia) has declined over the past two years, it has risen in the District, up from 7.1 percent in June 2003. It is not that the District is losing jobs. In fact, the District is adding jobs at a faster rate, in percentage terms, than the nation as a whole. It appears, however, that many of those newly created jobs are going not to D.C. residents but to suburbanites.

The unemployment data are based on a telephone survey of households, and more people are surveyed in states with larger populations. More surveying means less sampling error, which could help account for some of the volatility in the District's numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 977 households are surveyed in the District, compared with 1,060 in Maryland and 1,085 in Virginia.

-- Neil Irwin