Initial unemployment claims in Nebraska dropped for the week ending April 18 but remained well above normal.
There were 12,340 initial claims filed in the state, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That was down by more than 3,900 compared with the previous week and less than half of the peak hit two weeks ago.
In Lancaster County, there were 2,114 initial claims, down 400 from a week ago.
Gov. Pete Ricketts noted that while claims have declined significantly from a record high over recent weeks, last week's number was still three times higher than the previous pre-pandemic weekly record.
There have now been about 95,000 claims filed over the past five weeks, more than the average number filed in a two-year period in the state.
The Nebraska Department of Labor said in a news release that all industries except manufacturing and transportation and warehousing saw declines in claims from the previous week.
Continuing unemployment claims, which lag a week behind initial claims, grew more than 10,000 to 70,911.
A report released Wednesday by The Platte Institute estimated Nebraska had already lost more than 96,000 jobs by early April. Last Friday, the Department of Labor reported that the state's unemployment rate climbed from 2.9% in February to 4.2% in March, the highest one-month increase in records that go back to 1976.
The number of unemployment claims has swamped the state Labor Department. Despite increasing the size of the staff that processes claims from less than 40 to more than 200, the department has lowered its goal from processing 90% of claims in three weeks to processing 75% in four weeks.
Several people told the Journal Star last week that they have waited four weeks or more without receiving any unemployment compensation.
Nationally, initial claims for unemployment were at 4.4 million for the week of April 18, down about 800,000 from the previous week.
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