Nebraska Sets Another National Record For Lowest Monthly Unemployment Rate

       Nebraska’s unemployment rate dipped another tenth of a point in December to 1.7%, setting a record for the third month in a row for the lowest state rate anywhere since data collection began in 1976.

It’s also half the rate of a year ago.

       Nebraska has had one of the lowest jobless rates in the country through much of the pandemic and has now reached historically low levels for 5 straight months. Nationally, Utah was #2 in December at 1.9%, followed by Oklahoma at 2.3%.

    The December unemployment rate was even lower in Nebraska’s largest cities. Omaha came in at 1.6%, which is 1.7-points lower than a year ago but a tenth of a point higher than November.

       Grand Island at 1.4% is up  2-10ths of a point for the month but down 3.3 points from last December. Lincoln’s miniscule 1.1% is that same as November and 2.1-points under a year ago. 

      The Scottsbluff Micropolitan Statistical Area rate for December was 1.4%, up a tenth of a point for the month but 1.6-points lower than last year. 

     State unemployment numbers are adjusted for seasonal factors while the local numbers aren’t, making comparisons meaningless.

      Nonfarm employment, a count of filled jobs, was 1,025,771 in December – 4,003 fewer than November but 22,627 more than a year ago. 

        Private industry sectors with the most growth month-to-month were trade, transportation, and utilities (up 1,573) and manufacturing (up 465). 

      The most growth from last December came in leisure and hospitality (up 8,441); education and health (up 4,201); and trade, transportation, and utilities (up 3,347). 

      Nebraska has struggled with a chronic worker shortage since before the pandemic, which has driven up wages and made it difficult for employers to fill open jobs – much less expand. Business groups say the lack of workers is their biggest challenge.