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Unemployment rates remain higher than a year ago

Unemployment rates remain higher than a year ago

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Unemployment rates across the state remained elevated in October compared with a year ago, according to the latest data from the Nebraska Department of Labor.

The statewide unemployment rate was 3.1% last month, same as in September but up from 2.7% in October 2018.

The unemployment rate for the Lincoln Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Lancaster and Seward counties, was 2.7% in October, also the same as in September but up from 2.4% a year ago.

The state and local rates remained lower than the national rate, which was 3.6% in October, However, that rate was down from October of 2017, when it was 3.8%.

On a month-to-month basis, job growth was strong from September to October.

"Nebraska’s nonfarm job count reached a record high in October, as did nonfarm employment in Omaha and Lincoln," Commissioner of Labor John H. Albin said in a news release. He said that, even when accounting for seasonality factors, Nebraska had the largest monthly percentage increase in nonfarm employment in the nation.

About 1,500 more people were employed in the Lincoln area in October compared with September, while nearly 2,300 more were employed compared with October 2018. The number of jobs in the area was up 1,300 over September and 1,400 from a year ago.

While the state as a whole and its two largest metro areas only saw small increases in their unemployment rates compared with a year ago, some of the smaller cities saw much larger jumps.

The unemployment rate in Grand Island jumped to 4.4% in October, up from 2.6% a year ago and 2.9% in September. Beatrice's rate soared to 5.4% in October, the highest in the state, up from 3% in September and 3.9% last year.

Those rates are not seasonally adjusted, but none of Nebraska's other largest cities had an unemployment rate higher than 3.3% in October and none of them saw a year-over-year increase of more than 0.6 percentage points.

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Business 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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