Jobs

Nebraska's 5.8% Unemployment Rate Is Lowest in America

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics has released its State Employment and Unemployment survey for May. The national rate, reported earlier in the month, was 13.3%. It was no surprise that the rate was higher in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia when compared to May 2019. The figure was well below the national rate in one state though. Nebraska’s was 5.8%, the lowest in the country.

The number was still grim when compared to a national figure that was between 3.5% and 3.6% per month for much of 2019. Nebraska’s rate was below 3% for a number of months. Those days will be gone for a while. However, Nebraska’s figure was still remarkable. No other state had a rate below 8%.

Nebraska’s 5.8% compared to the annual national rate as America emerged from the Great Recession. The jobless rate peaked at 9.9% for the entire country. It dropped to 5.6% in 2014, on its way to less than 4% figures in 2018 and 2019.

According to an analysis by 24/7 Wall St. through last week, unemployment claims in Nebraska also have been low:

Nebraska
> Unemployment claims since mid-March: 143,979 (8th fewest)
> Unemployment claims relative to workforce: 14.0% of workforce (3rd lowest)
> April unemployment rate: 8.3% (3rd lowest)
> Most recent week’s unemployment claims (June 7 – June 13): 4,918 (12th fewest)
> Change in weekly claims from one year ago: +4,206 (+591%)
> Pre-COVID-19 pct. of workers in high-risk industries: 15.7% (11th lowest)

Relatively low unemployment rates in May were concentrated in low population states that cover large areas as measured by square miles. The rate in Idaho was 8.9%, and it was 9.0% in Montana. The figure was 9.1% in North Dakota and 9.4% in South Dakota. It was 8.8% in Wyoming.

Nebraska’s largest industry is agriculture. Employment in transportation, manufacturing and technology is substantial as well. Omaha is home to the nation’s largest conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway. Many people are employed in the insurance industry as well.

It will be months before the government releases job rates by industry by state. Presumably, those industries that dominate Nebraska’s job pool have been mostly durable. If so, Nebraska will remain among the states with the lowest unemployment rates in the country.