July 13, 2014

State unemployment rate up two-tenths of a percent in July

The state unemployment rate rose two-tenths of a percent last month to settle at 4.2%.

“Yes, we understand why there might be sort of a negative reaction to the fact that the rate has increased,” State Labor Commissioner Cathy Lang tells Nebraska Radio Network. “However, underlying that single number and that change in that single number is a number of things that are quite positive about what’s going on in the Nebraska economy.”

The State Department of Labor reports the unemployment rate rose from the June rate of 4%, primarily because more people entered the workforce as well as normal seasonal softness in the job market.

Lang says that the unemployment rate tends to trend upward during the summer as those working in education apply for unemployment benefits and manufacturers shut down factories for retooling.

Nebraska also has had a significant increase in its overall workforce.

“We also think that it’s a positive indicator that we do have more people coming into the workforce, to look for work, meaning that they believe they can find it,” Lang says. “They are not the discouraged worker that we hear so much about.”

Travel seems to be benefitting Nebraska. The department reports employment in the leisure and hospitality sector is up nearly 10% over the past year in Lincoln. Employment in durable goods manufacturing has grown by more than 3% over the past year statewide. Mining and construction is up 2.6%.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released its unemployment rankings from last year. Lincoln had the second lowest unemployment rate among metropolitan areas in the United States at 3.5%. Omaha ranked 11th lowest at 4.4%

The latest statistics from the state disclose the unemployment rate in the Lincoln metropolitan area has increased a bit at 4.1%. In Omaha, the unemployment rate last month was 4.6%.

The national unemployment rate is 7.4%.