The Nebraska Department of Labor reports the state unemployment rate dipped to 2.9% in December, two-tenths of a percent lower than the rate in November.
Bureau of Business Research Director Eric Thompson at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says the long-term forecast sees solid growth for the state economy.
“About four percent per year, which will be about two percent greater than the inflation rate, so we will have some real growth in income,” Thompson tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “And that will partly be due to people working more, but will also be due to some real growth in hourly wages which is not something that we’ve had a lot of recently. So, that’s a big positive for the economy.”
The forecast by the Bureau of Business Research expects Nebraska to add more than 32,000 jobs through 2017.
Many of those new jobs will come in the construction industry with an expected upswing in new home, commercial, and road construction.
Nebraska has enjoyed a very strong state economy, which has driven the unemployment rate to one of the lowest in the country, often only exceeded by North Dakota, which has benefitted greatly from the surge in jobs linked to the Bakken oil fields.
Thompson, though, says Nebraska’s economic growth has limits, which he says will spur only modest economic growth in the near future.
“Not spectacular, but positive,” according to Thompson. “I don’t think we’ll grow quite as fast as the nation in the next few years and the reason for that is we’re just not going to have as strong a population growth as the rest of the country, so that will hold us back a little bit. But, for the people who are here, we’ll have the jobs we need by and large.”
For the state’s two biggest cities, the Omaha metropolitan unemployment rate stands at 3.2% percent with Lincoln at 2.5%.
The national unemployment rate is 5.6%.