Unemployment in the Washington metropolitan area reached 6.1 percent in February, the highest rate ever recorded here in the 12 years records have been kept, District officials reported yesterday.
And in Washington itself, the rate rose to 10 percent in the same month, an increase of 0.7 percentage points over January's figures.
The jobless rate in the metropolitan area was up from 5.9 percent in January, according to city officials who reported that 102,900 people in the area's work force of 1.67 million people were unemployed in February.
District officials reported that30,700 persons in the city were without jobs during the month.
The unemployment rate of 10 percent in the District was the highest since July of last year, according to the report.
However, D.C. Employment Services Director Ivanhoe Donaldson said July traditionally is a high unemployment month, largely because of the presence in the labor market of a number of students on vacation from school. He said that the last time the city had a 10 percent unemployment rate in a nonsummer month was in March 1977.
"The current recession has contributed to an increase of 2.1 percent in the District's unemployment rate as compared to February a year ago," Donaldson said. The result, he said, is that 6,000 more people are out of work over figures of a year ago. He said the total number of jobs available fell by 10,600 over the year.
Donaldson said the Reagan administration's budget cuts and a reduction in the number of government jobs, plus the general downturn in the economy, accounted for the increase.
Compared with a year ago, unemployment in the area has risen by 1.5 percentage points, according to an aide to Donaldson.
"Sometimes the numbers can be deceptive, looking at them month to month," the aide said. "A movement of 1/2 percent is not necessarily a significant change, but 1 1/2 percent over a year is."
Donaldson's report said the Reagan administration "has effectively reduced jobs in government to a no-growth status, halting the continued growth . . . that began after World War II and peaked in the late 1960s."
According to preliminary reports, Donaldson said, the number of available jobs in the city in February fell by 300 to about 600,000 positions. Hardest hit, he said, was retail trade and the federal government.
Since February 1981, Donaldson's report said, the District's lost jobs include 8,500 federal jobs and 1,800 in local government. In addition to 1,100 jobs lost in the publishing and manufacturing industries, largely due to the closing of The Washington Star, the report said, about 700 jobs were lost in the finance, insurance and real estate fields.
The metropolitan area showed an increase of 800 jobs between January and February of this year, according to the report, concentrated in local government jobs in the suburbs, as well as in construction, services and transportation, communications and public utilities in city and suburbs.
Of the metropolitan work force of 1.675 million people, 1.572 were employed in February, according to the report.