- Associated Press - Friday, April 18, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska’s preliminary unemployment rate inched up a tenth of a point to hit 3.7 percent in March, but the state’s jobless rate remains one of the lowest in the nation, according to a state report released Friday.

The 3.7 percent rate in March is two-tenths of a point under the 3.9 percent the state posted in March 2013, the state Department of Labor said. Nebraska is tied with South Dakota for the third lowest unemployment rate in the nation, after North Dakota and Vermont, and its rate is well below the national figure of 6.7 percent in March.

There were 1,027,253 people in the state labor force last month, the report said, compared with 1,025,801 in February. The number of unemployed rose to 38,459 from 36,933 in February. The number of people with Nebraska jobs in March dropped slightly, to 988,794 from 988,868 in February. In March 2013 the number of employed was 988,507, the state report said.

In Omaha, the preliminary unemployment rate remained at 4.5 percent, matching the rate a year ago. Lincoln’s March rate dropped a tenth of a point from February, to 3.5 percent. That’s also a tenth of a point under the March 2013 rate of 3.6 percent.

The unemployment rates for Lincoln and Omaha are not seasonally adjusted, so they cannot be directly compared with the state unemployment rate.

The rate jumped to 6.7 percent in March from 3.9 percent in February for the Grand Island market, which includes Hall, Howard and Merrick counties. State Labor Commissioner Catherine Lang said that, according to statistical analysis, 2,876 people were unemployed in that area last month, compared with 1,613 in February, an increase of 1,263 people.

Lang said the increase came mostly in the manufacturing sector and did not involve plant closures. But she said she could not provide more details because of federal confidentiality regulations.

Here are all preliminary area labor market unemployment rates for March, followed by the revised February rates:

-Beatrice: 4.5, 4.8

-Columbus: 3.4, 3.5

-Fremont: 4.2, 4.4

-Grand Island: 6.7, 3.9

-Hastings: 4.4, 4.1

-Kearney: 3.2, 3.3

-Lexington: 4.5, 4.6

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