Nebraska jobless rate inches up slightly in April to 2.9%

Nebraska’s unemployment rate inched up to 2.9% in April, even though more people entered or re-entered the job market, the state labor commissioner said Friday.

The preliminary April rate is up a tenth of a point from March’s rate of 2.8% — the same figure recorded for April 2018, a Nebraska Labor Department report said. The new figure also was well below April’s national preliminary rate of 3.6%, which is down two-tenths of a point from 3.8% in March and three-tenths of a point under the April 2018 rate of 3.9%.

The Nebraska figure had been 2.8% for eight months in a row.

Iowa’s unemployment rate remained at 2.4% in April for the 10th month in a row.

Iowa Workforce Development reported Friday the jobless rate held steady, where it has been since July 2018. Iowa has the nation’s third-lowest rate, behind only Vermont and North Dakota, and tied with New Hampshire.

The number of Iowa residents with jobs in April increased by 4,600 to 1.67 million. The number of unemployed residents dropped to 40,400.

In Nebraska, the labor force employment reached a record high of 1,002,090 people in April, State Labor Commissioner John Albin said in a news release.

But the increase in the total labor force, “including new entrants, exceeded the increase in the number of people employed by 555. This led to the slight increase in the unemployment rate,” Albin said.

Any impacts from March’s historic flooding in eastern Nebraska and blizzard in western Nebraska were not apparent in the April nonfarm employment and labor force data, he also said.

Officials have estimated that the late winter storm system caused nearly $1.4 billion in damage to property, farm operations and infrastructure.

Nonfarm employment was 1,025,019 in April, up 3,233 over the year and up 11,489 over the month, the report said. Private industries with the most growth year over year were professional and business services, up 2,080; financial activities, up 1,075; and other services, up 882.

The largest gains month to month were seen in mining and construction, up 4,281; professional and business services, up 3,049; and leisure and hospitality, up 1,553.

The preliminary Omaha-area rate for April dropped to 2.9%, from 3.3% in March. The year-ago April figure was also 2.9%. Lincoln’s preliminary rate dropped two-tenths of a point to hit 2.7% in April, compared with 2.9% in March. The figure in April 2018 was 2.5%. Grand Island’s preliminary rate declined to 3% in April, from 3.4% in March. The year-ago April figure was 2.9%.

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