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Both the state and local unemployment rates rose in July compared with a year ago.

According to data released Friday by the Nebraska Department of Labor, the state unemployment rate was 3.1% last month, 0.1 percentage points higher than both June and July 2018.

The unemployment rate for the Lincoln Metropolitan Statistical Area also was 3.1% in July, which was down from 3.2% in June but up from 2.8% in July 2018.

Every single metropolitan and micropolitan area in the state saw its unemployment rate rise from a year ago, with many of the biggest increases in central and western Nebraska.

For example, North Platte saw its unemployment rate soar to 4.1% in July, up from 3.2% a year ago, while Scottsbluff saw its rate climb to 3.9% from 3.4% a year ago. Both of those rates are higher than the national unemployment rate of 3.7%.

Creighton economist Ernie Goss said the rising unemployment rates are due in large part to weakness in the farm economy that has been exacerbated by weather and other economic events.

Goss said the U.S. trade war with China, a lack of a signed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a global economic slowdown, a strong U.S. dollar and poor 2019 planting conditions "have hammered Nebraska's farm economy."

Some of those same factors also are affecting the state's manufacturing economy, he said.

"Thus, Creighton's monthly surveys of bank CEOs in rural areas of the state and manufacturing supply managers indicates significant and rising economic weakness," Goss said in an email. "This weakness has now spilled over into the rest of the state economy."

Despite the rising unemployment rates, figures from the Labor Department continue to show the number of people with jobs increasing in the state.

"The number of employed workers statewide increased again, with July being the seventh straight month of historically high employment,” Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin said in a news release.

Labor Department data show there were nearly 13,200 more people employed in the state in July than there were a year ago, although there also were more than 3,800 more people unemployed.

In the Lincoln area, there were 2,100 more people employed and 550 more people unemployed compared with July 2018.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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