LINCOLN, Neb – Nebraska’s unemployment rate in May was 5.2%, a drop of 3-1/2-points from April and 2.1-points higher than a year ago – reflecting the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy and employment. It’s also the lowest state rate in the country.
State Labor Commissioner John Albin says in an understatement that “the data used to calculate the unemployment rate is more volatile than is typical for Nebraska and other states” because of the way conditions in the labor market are constantly changing due to the pandemic.
Nonfarm employment in Nebraska was 961,247 in May. That’s 74,766 fewer jobs than last May but almost 17,000 more than in April.
Only two industries added jobs from last year as Mining and Construction added 1,773 jobs while Financial Services grew by 162. Leisure and Hospitality, which lost a record-breaking 30,135 jobs in April, bounced back with a record increase of 10,273 in May.
The jobless rate in May for Omaha was 6.3%, down from an even 10% in April but 3.3-points higher than a year ago while Lincoln’s rate of 5% was an improvement of 4.3% for the month but 2.2-points above last year.
Grand Island was even more volatile at 4.1% – 5.2-points lower than April and 4.4-points higher than last May. The Scottsbluff micropolitan area came in at 4.3%, just 8-10ths of a point above last year after shooting up to 7.3% in April
Unemployment rates at the state level are adjusted for regional factors while the local numbers are not, making comparisons between the two meaningless.