September 22, 2014

State unemployment rate unchanged; drops for Omaha and Lincoln

The state unemployment rate remained at 3.6% in August, according to statistics released by the Nebraska Department of Labor.

The department reports while the state unemployment rate was unchanged for July, it dropped 0.4% from August of last year.

Non-farm employment is up by more than 6,000 jobs so far this year, up 3,601 from July. The industries that showed the most growth were mining and construction; trade, transportation, and utilities; and education and health services.

The state unemployment rate is well below the national rate of 6.1%.

The Omaha and Lincoln unemployment rates both fell and both by 0.4%.

In the Omaha metropolitan area, the unemployment rate stands at 3.8%. The Lincoln unemployment rate is 3%.

Survey: 90% of Nebraska’s job market “stable” for 4th quarter

An upbeat job market is expected in Nebraska during the final three months of the year, according to a new survey. Manpower Incorporated spokeswoman Karen Miller says an overwhelming majority of employers polled in the state were optimistic.

“We’re excited to see 21% of employers are looking to add staff for this October through December timeline with 69% looking to maintain their current workforce,” Miller says. “Really, we’re looking at about 90% stability.”

The survey found 7% of employers in Nebraska planned reductions in staff during the fourth quarter. That’s a jump up from just 2% of employers who planned cuts during the third quarter, which Miller says isn’t a big surprise.

Miller says, “Coming to the end of the year, we also have an election happening this fall, in November, so employers tend to be a little bit more conservative in Q4 than they are the other months out of the year.”

She says Nebraska’s job market is looking better than the nationwide outlook. Of the more than 18,000 employers surveyed in the U.S., Manpower found 19% expect to add to their workforces, while 7% expect a decline in their payrolls between October and December.

USDA’s food security report update

The U-S Department of Agriculture released the latest Food Security Report and it shows 86% of all Americans had enough food to eat in 2013. Alisha Coleman Jensen is with their Economic Research Service and says that leaves 14.3% of the population food insecure.

Nearly 62% of those reporting to be food insecure took part on one or more of the federal food assistance programs. Those include the SNAP Program, WIC and the School Lunch Program.  

Statistics from the Food Bank for the Heartland show that about 20% of children in Nebraska and western Iowa are at risk for hunger. Nearly 16% of all Nebraskans report at least one time in the past 12 months they did not have enough money to buy food that they or their family needed. 170,000 Nebraskans take part in the SNAP Program and nearly 75% are households with children.

Survey: State economy slows, employers have more openings than applicants

GossA survey of business leaders across Nebraska finds the state’s leading economic indicator for August fell several points from July but continues to grow.

Creighton University polls companies monthly in Nebraska and eight other Midwestern states. Creighton economist Ernie Goss says the region’s employment index also fell for the month, setting up an unusual situation.

“Four of ten businesses reported they had more openings than they had applicants,” Goss says. “Think about that. We’ve got this job market where we’re losing jobs, at least for August, yet we have more openings than we have applicants for four of ten companies.”

“That’s a lot of jobs out there that people just aren’t qualified for, in other words, they don’t meet the minimum requirements,” Goss says. “Those would be skilled occupations, primarily.”

Businesses in Nebraska and the eight other states in the region are also seeing what Goss calls a supply bottleneck. It’s led to the delivery lead time index reaching its highest level in three years.

“What we’ve got across the region is a difficulty in getting your inputs, that’s raw materials and supplies, to your business,” Goss says. “Why is that? A lot of your rail cars are shipping and full with energy products and that’s taking up space on these either trucking or rails.” Housing construction is also picking up, he says, so housing supplies are taking up room as well.

Economic growth in Nebraska will remain healthy for the second half of 2014, Goss projects, based on surveys over the last several months.

Since the national recovery began in July of 2009, the manufacturing sector in Nebraska added almost 5,400 manufacturing jobs for a 5.9% job gain. For 2014, however, he says the state’s durable goods manufacturing firms have added no jobs.



Nationstar slashes more jobs in Scottsbluff

A Texas-based mortgage company is cutting more jobs at its office in the Nebraska panhandle.

Officials with Nationstar Mortgage say they plan to eliminate another 90 positions at the firm’s facility in Scottsbluff.

The cuts are expected to start within a matter of weeks, during September and October.

Back in March, Nationstar announced it would be terminating at least 100 personnel in Scottsbluff.

The new round of cuts will leave less than half the staff of a year ago, with about 150 regular employees and another 50 on contract.

Company officials point to major changes in the mortgage industry over the past year.