August 31, 2015

Marketers consider ways to share Nebraska’s quality of life

Nebraska Nice.A forum in Kearney this week brought together economic development leaders from across the region.

Organizers say the goal was to let attendees provide input on ways to grow local economies and to improve the overall quality of life in Nebraska.

Dave Snitley, president of Firespring Marketing and Advertising in Lincoln, was the forum’s moderator.

“It’s amazing to see the passion in the communities in Nebraska. As a lifelong Nebraskan, it’s fun to see the passion is statewide,” Snitley says. “We’ve been to every corner: Norfolk, Scottsbluff, Gering, North Platte, Kearney, Omaha, Lincoln, and to see everybody’s passion for their communities and how they want to share the message of the quality of life we have has been a lot of fun.”

Snitley outlines some of the key areas of interest that are being considered as ways to grow the state’s economy: “Trying to identify not only the key markets to go after, the key targets, what messaging needs to resonate with the young talent to keep them in Nebraska, as well as to get other businesses to come and experience this, where their staffs can have quality of life,” he says. “Much different than other parts of the country.”

The forum was part of a series of similar events being conducted across the state to help develop a new strategic marketing plan and to launch the agency’s rebranding initiative.

The event at the Buffalo County Extension Center was sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney


State unemployment rate up slightly, still lowest in nation

Jobs[1]The state unemployment rate edged up a tick in July.

The Nebraska Department of Labor reports the unemployment rate for July was 2.7%, up one-tenth of a percent from the previous month.

Nonfarm employment in July dropped to just below one million. The sectors of education and health, leisure and hospitality, and other services have seen the biggest growth in employment this year.

The Nebraska unemployment rate is much better than the national unemployment rate of 5.3%.

The Omaha area unemployment rate stayed the same at 3.2% while the Lincoln area unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a percent to settle at 2.5%.

Nebraska continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in the country, followed by North Dakota and Utah.

Economic woes caused by tight beef supplies

There hasn’t been a bargain at the beef counter for a long, long time. Many Nebraskans rely on the beef market for their income and when supplies are tight connected businesses suffer. Just last week Tyson Foods closed their processing plant in Denison, Iowa because there just wasn’t enough cattle available to keep them running and 400 people lost their job.

Creighton University Economist Ernie Goss says there is a domino effect when there are layoffs. He says for every one manufacturing job lost you lose a spill-over job, in retail for example. He says Tyson Foods is encouraging workers to apply at their other locations, including Dakota City and Lexington. Goss says that is a long way from home and is not a viable offer for those now unemployed.

Goss says it is hard to predict where this market will go. He says, “A lot will depend on the turnaround in the global economy. Nebraska and Iowa together export between $12 and $13-billion worth of food so this is significant. It depends on what happens in the global economy and I expect that to do a little bit better but in the short to intermediate term it is going to be a bit tougher.”

Nebraska Department of Labor job fair Thursday

Nebraskans looking for work have a great opportunity Thursday to find good paying job with great benefits. Nebraska Department of Labor spokesperson Deb Christensen says they are holding an industry specific job fair and the public is encouraged to attend.

Christensen says, “This is for manufacturing, distribution and warehouse. I have 45 companies coming to our job fair on Thursday.”

Positions include fabrication, line and production workers, mechanics, fork lift drivers, delivery drivers, managers and inventory specialists. Christensen says all companies need accounting people, office and maintenance workers as well. She says there is very good pay in manufacturing and good benefits as well.

All of the companies represented at the job fair have openings and applicants are urged to bring an updated resume. The job fair is Thursday from 1 pm to 5 pm at Metropolitan Community College’s South Omaha Campus at the ITC Building.

Crude oil at record lows but gas prices could soon rise

Crude oil prices have dropped to some of the lowest levels in the last 52 weeks but we are still not seeing big price drops at the gas pump. AAA Nebraska spokesperson Rose White says there is plenty of crude oil but not processed fuel. White says crude oil inventories are up about 20% from one year ago but processed fuel inventories are up only 1%. She says there is plenty of oil but it is not being processed as quickly as we may need it.

Processed fuel is currently trading at $1.76 a gallon which is significantly higher than its 52 week low of $1.23 a gallon. The commodity price does not include taxes, delivery costs and retail profit margins.

Gas prices may also soon be on the rise in some states. White says gas prices are already up 35-cents to 50-cents a gallon in some Great Lake states due to a problem at a refinery in Whiting, Indiana. That refinery may be off-line for several weeks and that may have a negative impact on gas prices in the Midwest.

White says the good news is refinery issues are usually temporary and once they start processing fuel they will be using lower priced crude oil. That could cause gas prices to drop fast. Triple-A expects gas prices to drop to the $2 a gallon mark if there are no other refinery issues by the end of the 4th quarter.