Decline projected for Nebraska unemployment


November 24th, 2010

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Lincoln, NE – Nebraska’s unemployment rate rose slightly last month but one analytical firm predicts the state will be among the top in the nation for job growth next year.  Nebraska’s unemployment rate for October was 4.7 percent, up from September’s 4.6 percent. Phil Baker is director of labor market information for the Nebraska Department of Labor.

“I think that just shows that we’re remaining fairly stable at this particular point in time as far as employment, our economy goes we’re not taking any big jumps either way. We’re just sort of staying pretty steady.”

But compared to the nation as a whole, where unemployment is 9.6 percent, Nebraska’s in good shape.  And the firm Moody’s Analytics is predicting Nebraska will have the seventh highest job growth rate among the states next year, with a 1.35 percent increase.  Baker says that although the number of jobs in Nebraska has declined since its pre-recession peak, one percent growth is fairly typical.  Tyler Case, an assistant economist at Moody’s, agrees.

“It’s not so much that Nebraska is blowing things out of the water on a historical basis.  It’s that places like Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, these commodity agricultural states that weathered the recession pretty well are going to see this kind of steady gain throughout the recovery that the rest of the nation probably won’t see.”

In addition to the influence of agriculture, Case says Nebraska sidestepped a major boom and bust in housing, leaving people with enough money to keep retail, leisure and hospitality services doing pretty well.  And he said both Omaha and Lincoln are among the top 20 cities in the nation for the percentage of their workforce in insurance, a relatively stable field.  Overall, preliminary figures for October, not seasonally adjusted, show there were about 948 thousand jobs in Nebraska, while 928 thousand Nebraskans were working.  Baker said those numbers can differ because of people who live in other states working in Nebraska, or because of Nebraskans holding more than one job.  Case said it will probably be early to mid 2012 before Nebraska regains the job numbers it had before the recession.

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