The District's unemployment rate has dropped to 8.5 percent as it continues a steady trend downward, but the figure remained well above the national average of 7.9 percent.

Lisa Mallory, who directs the D.C. Department of Employment Services, revealed the jobless rate during an appearance before city lawmakers on Monday -- one day before the federal government plans to release state unemployment rates from across the country.

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics has imposed tight restrictions on the release of pivotal economic indicators, an agency spokesman said Mallory violated no federal rules by disclosing the District's unemployment figure early.

"The states, including D.C., are allowed to release the data whenever they choose," BLS spokesman Gary Steinberg said. "She didn't break any of our rules."

Mallory's revelation, however, preempted a scheduled announcement by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.

A spokesman for Gray said Mallory's comment was likely a slip of the tongue.

"Sometimes, it's hard to contain yourself when you have good news," he said.

The District's 8.5 percent October unemployment rate is a slight improvement on September's 8.7 percent jobless figure.

October's improvement marks the 14th straight month the District's unemployment rate has fallen or remained the same.