Unemployment in Maryland and the District dropped during September as discouraged job-seekers gave up looking for work and students returned to school, officials said yesterday.

Unemployment in the District fell to 10.7 percent from 11 percent in August, while the unemployment rate in Maryland went down to 8.1 percent from 8.6 percent.

The number of persons employed and unemployed and the overall size of the work force dropped in both jurisdictions, officials said.

Although September is traditionally a better-than-average month for employment because of seasonal factors, Maryland officials said the unemployment rate this September was the highest since they began keeping track of jobless figures in 1970. Still, Maryland's September unemployment of 8.1 percent was the lowest one-month figure this year, officials said. It trailed the national unemployment figure -- which was 10.1 percent in September -- for the seventh straight month.

District officials said the end of summer took away both jobs and workers. The number of unemployed persons fell 2,800 to 34,000, while the number of District residents with jobs fell 13,800 to 283,200. Officials said students returning to school and the end of several summer jobs programs were responsible for the declines.

The number of jobs available in the District fell 19,800 in September to 604,800, primarily because of the end of summer programs. The decline was somewhat offset by additional jobs in the services category resulting from the reopening of school.

For the metropolitan area, unemployment declined to 5.8 percent in September from 6.1 percent, District officials said.

In Maryland, 176,805 persons were unemployed and the work force declined by 25,603 to 2,175,040 workers in September, according to the Maryland Bureau of Research and Analysis. The decline in the work force consisted, in just about equal parts, of a drop in the number of persons employed and a reduction in the number unemployed.

State officials said that while the end of summer was a factor in both figures, it appeared that many unemployed persons had stopped looking for work during the month, reducing the number of people counted in the overall work force figure.

Unemployment in the Maryland suburbs of Washington fell to 5 percent from 5.2 percent in September, the state said, as hiring in education positions for the start of the school year offset declines caused by the layoffs of summer workers by local government.

For the metropolitan Baltimore area, unemployment declined to 9.7 percent in September from 10 percent, while Baltimore city unemployment was 11.4 percent, down from 11.6 percent. State officials also attributed those declines to discouraged job-seekers.

Recalls of laid-off workers by manufacturers cut unemployment in the western part of the state and in Carroll, Washington and Cecil counties. In Cecil, the recall of auto workers for a plant in neighboring Wilmington, Del. sliced unemployment to 9.9 percent from 14.6 percent. Summer workers who declined to look for new work at the end of the season cut unemployment in several counties on the Eastern Shore and in southern Maryland.

Seasonal drops in employment, however, raised unemployment in Somerset County to 15.4 percent in September from 14.3 percent in August and in Worcester County to 7.2 percent from 5.3 percent.