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Nebraska’s unemployment rate on record low streak, but national rank shifts a bit

Unemployment Benefits
Posted at 11:16 AM, Jul 23, 2022

Nebraska is on a streak with its record low unemployment rate, staying steady for the third month in June at 1.9%. That’s a seasonally adjusted, preliminary figure. 

But, according to data released Friday, the state’s position in the national unemployment rankings has changed a bit. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Minnesota’s seasonally adjusted and preliminary unemployment rate dipped in June to 1.8%, just below Nebraska. That is reported to be the lowest ever for a state.

Previously, Nebraska, at 1.9%, was tied for having the record low nationally. (There was a month not long ago that Nebraska reported an even lower rate, but that was since revised.)

Nationally, the preliminary unemployment rate in June was 3.6%. The District of Columbia, New Mexico and Nevada reported the highest June rates, with 5.5%, 4.9% and 4.7% respectively.

States with lowest unemployment

Minnesota, 1.8

Nebraska, 1.9

New Hampshire, 2.0

Utah, 2.0

Vermont, 2.2

South Dakota, 2.3

Indiana, 2.4

Kansas, 2.4

Idaho, 2.5

North Dakota, 2.5

Alabama, 2.6

Iowa, 2.6

Labor Commissioner John Albin noted Friday that more than 1 million Nebraskans are employed, and he said that’s been the case since August 2020.

“For the last year, the state’s monthly employment levels have reached historical highs,” Albin said.

A year ago, Nebraska’s unemployment rate was 2.5%.

Christopher Decker, an economist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said there are ups and downs to historic unemployment levels.

“The good news is if you want a job, there are jobs available,” he said. The challenge, Decker added, can be insufficient workforce for businesses wanting to grow or open in Nebraska.

He said a shortage of workers could slow down a company’s operations or push up wages to compete, leading to inflated consumer prices to offset those costs.

The number of those employed and unemployed in the labor force are based on a Census Bureau survey.

Individuals who claim unemployment benefits and those who aren’t can be counted as unemployed, based on their responses. Those who aren’t working and not seeking work are not considered part of the labor force and are not included in the unemployment rate calculation.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to grow our labor force,” Decker said. “Take a good, long hard look at brain drain, and trying to attract young people to the state of Nebraska. We need to revisit immigration. There are a number of ways.”

Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Cate Folsom for questions: Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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