Feb Unemployment Unchanged; March Expected To Show Coronavirus Impact


LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska’s unemployment rate for February was 2.9%, the same as in January and 2-10th of a point lower than last year.

The March rate is expected to much higher because of the impact of efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Nebraska jumped last week from fewer than 800 new jobless claims to nearly 16,000 – shattering the old record weekly increase of 4,003.

State Labor Commissioner John Albin says non-farm employment topped a million-23, an increase of nearly 12,600 from last year and almost 2,000 more than in January. Albin says the numbers show how strong Nebraska’s economy was before the coronavirus arrived.

Because the federal Dept of Labor is still in the benchmarking processing, which reconciles estimated numbers with actual data over the past year, local area comparisons with last year are not available.

Omaha’s jobless rate for February was 3.1%, down a tenth of a point from January while Lincoln was unchanged at 2.7%. Grand Island’s rate fell a whopping 1-1/2 points to 3.5% and the Scottsbluff micropolitan statistical area came in at 3.3% for an improvement of 3-10ths of a point.

The state numbers are adjusted for seasonal factors while the local numbers are not so comparisons between the two are meaningless.