Nebraska Unemployment Rate of 1.9 Percent Lowest Any State Has Ever Recorded

Nebraska reported the lowest unemployment rate in October that any state has ever recorded since data collection commenced in 1976, the Associated Press reported. The rate of 1.9 percent from last month was also the first time a state unemployment percentage has ever fallen below 2 percent.

Nebraska's labor department and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the October unemployment rate, and spokespeople for both offices confirmed that it was the lowest in the nation's records.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts lauded the achievement in a statement released Friday.

"The record rate is a sign of our strong job growth, successful reemployment services, and extraordinary economic resilience. Nebraska has plenty of great-paying career opportunities for anyone looking to enjoy the Good Life!" the governor said.

Nebraska has seen the lowest unemployment rates out of all U.S. states throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic. The October rate of 1.9 percent was a slight decrease from the record-nearing 2 percent rate reported in September, the AP reported.

Rural states like Nebraska commonly maintain unemployment rates that are lower than the U.S. average. This is because there are typically more jobs in the agriculture and food production sectors that are considered essential, there are fewer people per job and those states have policies that curb unemployment, according to the AP.

The state said it filled 1,031,001 jobs in October, an increase of 10,718 from September. Nebraska Labor Commissioner John Albin also said that non-farm employment, or employment excluding farm workers, grew by more than 30,000 from October of 2020.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Nebraska Unemployment Rate
Nebraska's unemployment rate fell to a mere 1.9 percent last month, the lowest a state has reached since data collection began in 1976, according to labor statistics released on November 19. Pedestrians with and without face masks walk in downtown Omaha, Nebraska on July 31, 2020. Nati Harnik/AP Photo

Nebraska has struggled with a chronic worker shortage since even before the pandemic, and it has driven up wages and made it difficult for employers to hire and expand. Earlier this month, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry released a survey of its members where 92 percent said finding skilled workers was a top priority.

"We have a lot of manufacturers across the state that are finding it difficult to expand their operations" in the face of rising consumer demand, said Bryan Slone, the chamber's president.

The OpenSky Policy Institute, a Nebraska-based tax policy think tank, has also argued that the unemployment rate is an incomplete picture of the state's economic health because it doesn't count people who have stopped looking for work. Some of those cases involve people who retired early during the pandemic or left the workforce to care for loved ones.

In Nebraska, much of last month's private job growth was driven by the education, health care, transportation and financial industries. The leisure and hospitality sectors have rebounded as well over the last year after taking a big hit during the pandemic.

The unemployment rates have been even lower in the state's two largest metropolitan areas, Omaha and Lincoln. The Omaha area's rate in October was 1.7 percent, while the Lincoln area's was 1.3 percent.

The national, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in October was 4.6 percent, down 0.2 percentage points from the previous month.

Nebraska Labor Commissioner
Nebraska Labor Commissioner John Albin said that nonfarm employment, or employment excluding farm workers, grew by more than 30,000 from October of 2020. Albin, left, speaks as Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts observes social distancing at a news conference in Lincoln, Nebraska, on April 2, 2020. Nati Harnik/AP Photo