The Philadelphia area's unemployment rate remained at 9.1 percent in November, the state Department of Labor and Industry reported today, but the figures may be weaker than they appear. The reason: 11,500 people dropped out of the labor force during the month, so they were not counted as unemployed.

The actual number of people in the area who were unemployed fell by 1,800 from October. The number with jobs dropped by 9,700, the report said.

But with the overall labor force declining in size, the jobless rate was stable. Over the last year, the local labor force is down by 30,000 people.

And by industry, jobs were added in November in retailing (a seasonal gain for the holidays), education/health services and government. The leisure/hospitality industry lost jobs.

In Philadelphia, the unemployment rate was 11.5 percent last month, down from 11.7 percent in October.

The local area consists of the city and its four suburban counties in Pennsylvania; Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem Counties in New Jersey; New Castle County, Del.; and Cecil County, Md.    - Paul Schweizer