Unemployment in the District of Columbia jumped to 11.3 percent in June and in the metropolitan area as a whole rose slightly to 6.3 percent--the highest levels in the 12 years comparable records have been kept, according to city officials.
Recent high school and college graduates accounted for 70 percent of the increased joblessness. A similar influx of potential workers occurs annually, officials said, but the situation was made worse this year by the national recession and federal government cutbacks that have slowed the area economic growth.
In addition, officials reported, unemployed persons in the District were remaining jobless an average of 24 weeks, about three weeks longer than a year ago, and the city paid out 32 percent more in unemployment benefits for the first half of this year than for the first half of 1981.
Overall, according to the figures released yesterday by the D.C. Department of Employment Services, there were 6,400 more persons unemployed in the District than in June 1981, while there were 8,800 more people out of work in the suburbs than a year ago.
Matthew F. Shannon, acting director of the employment services department, said the Washington area's economic base usually grows about 2.8 percent a year but that growth is now hovering at just over half that rate. "Until the national economy improves, the prospects are not good," Shannon said.
"What makes it bad is that there are no boom areas in our economy right now," added Shannon, whose department compiles the unemployment figures for Washington and the metropolitan area. "There is not a significant area where there are plenty jobs available, even for people who want retraining."
According to the June statistics, there were 109,100 unemployed persons in the metropolitan area's workforce of about 1.72 million persons.
Of those, 35,600 were D.C. residents, an increase of 2,700 from the previous month. The city's unemployment rate for May was 10.6 percent.
In the rest of the metropolitan area there were about 73,500 unemployed persons in June, up 4,600 from May when the unemployment rate was 6.0 percent.
Although there were no sharp declines in specific areas of employment, Shannon said, the economy showed continued declines in such areas as wholesale and retail foods, general merchandise, automotive dealers, eating and drinking and apparel.
Shannon said that the slight increase in unemployment among the retail and wholesale trade group was "was fairly significant because that is an area that generally holds firm."
Only slight improvements were noted in the health and legal services areas and among trade associations, officials said.
Shannon said the last time the city's unemployment rate approached the current level was June of 1973, when it reached 11.1 percent. The previous record-high metropolitan rate of 6.1 percent was reached in February of this year, Shannon said. Figures published before 1970 were compiled differently and are not generally comparable to current statistics.
Shannon noted that the federal government continues to reduce its workforce and programs that in the past have accounted for private contracts and other spinoff employment.
"The federal government had a slight increase in unemployment" of 1.1 per cent from May to June, Shannon said. "It has stabilized over the past four months. The Reagan administration is laying them off a little at a time rather that all at once, but it has been steady."
Shannon criticized the Reagan administration for not supporting federal retraining programs and for high interest rates that contribute to the recession.
"There needs to be the development of a sound economic policy so interest rates can go down. That would induce the private sector to stimulate and create new jobs," Shannon said.
Shannon's office said a federally supported retraining program would be of particular help in the District because many of its unemployed include youths who do not have either the education or experience they need.
Employment officials said there are many jobs in secretarial, word processing and computer specialist fields that are not being filled despite the recession, but many applicants either are not qualified or are overqualified.
According to Shannon, the cost of D.C. unemployment insurance payments rose from $47.3 million during the first six months of calendar year 1981 to $62.5 million for the first six months this year, an increase of about 32 percent.
The number of actual payments made to unemployed persons rose 24.3 percent, from 346,120 during the first six months of 1981 to 430,309 during the first half of this year.