L.A. County’s unemployment rate held steady at 8.1 percent in August even as the area gained nearly 18,000 jobs – as many schools reopened after early summer vacation, according to state figures released Friday.

The unemployment rate remained stubbornly high, because even as more county residents reported working in August that was offset by more residents looking for work, according to the state Employment Development Department.

Indeed, the jobless rate has held steady since June, though it’s down from 9.9 percent a year ago. August’s rate still exceeds the state average of 7.4 percent and was two full percentage points above the national average of 6.1 percent.

The education sector posted the biggest gains in August, adding about 8,000 jobs as more schools start their summer vacations earlier. Most schools still reopen in September, so next month’s report should show even bigger education job gains.

The other sector with big gains in August was professional and business services, up 6,600 jobs. Government and entertainment also posted slight gains.

“We’ve been seeing steady gains in hiring for administrative positions,” said Iyda Kelati, Torrance branch manager for international staffing firm Adecco.

She added that the retail and retail distribution sectors have been hiring the most administrators as they gear up for the holiday shopping season.

In the last year, the health care and social assistance sector gained 16,600 jobs over the past 12 months, while leisure and hospitality and construction also posted significant gains. Manufacturing was the only sector to post a net loss, shedding 15,500 jobs.

The city of Los Angeles reported unemployment of 9.4 percent in August compared to 9.6 percent the previous month.

Among large cities in the greater Valley region, Lancaster reported the highest unemployment rate for August at 12 percent, down from 12.3 in July. Palmdale, the other major population center in the Antelope Valley, reported unemployment of 10.6 percent in July compared to 10.8 percent in July.

In the east San Fernando Valley, Glendale had 7.4 percent, a decrease from 7.6 percent in July and Burbank had 6.9 percent, a slight downtick from 7 percent in July. Santa Clarita reported 5.2 percent, a drop from 5.3 percent in July.