- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska’s preliminary unemployment rate dropped to 2.6 percent in March and remained the lowest figure in the nation, according to a state report issued Tuesday.

The March rate was a tenth of a point under the revised February rate of 2.7 percent and was eight-tenths of a point under the March 2014 rate of 3.4 percent, the Nebraska Labor Department report said.

“Nebraska has not seen an unemployment rate of 2.6 since 1998,” said Labor Commissioner John Albin. “Ninety-one counties experienced a lower unemployment rate in March than they had in March 2014.” The state has 93 counties.

The new statewide figure remained well below the preliminary national unemployment rate of 5.5 percent in March. U.S. Labor Department figures showed Nebraska was trailed by North Dakota at 3.1 percent and Utah at 3.4 percent.

Nebraska listed 990,833 people as employed last month, compared with 991,295 in February and 987,645 in March 2014. There were 1,017,058 people in the state labor force in March, the report said, compared with 1,019,131 in February and 1,022,651 in March.

Omaha’s preliminary unemployment rate was 3.1 percent last month, down a tenth from February’s revised figure of 3.2 percent and down 1.1 percentage points from the revised March 2014 figure of 4.2 percent. Lincoln’s preliminary March rate was 2.3 percent, compared with a revised figure of 2.4 percent in February and down 1 percentage point from the revised March 2014 figure of 3.3 percent.

The preliminary rate for the Grand Island labor market hit 2.9 percent last month, compared with 3.0 percent in February and 6.4 percent in March 2014.

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

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

-Beatrice: 3.5, 3.8

-Columbus: 2.5, 2.6

-Fremont: 2.9, 3.0

-Hastings: 2.9, 2.9

-Kearney: 2.1, 2.1

-Lexington: 2.9, 3.1

-Norfolk: 2.5, 2.6

-North Platte: 2.7, 2.7

-Red Willow: 3.2, 3.2

-Scottsbluff: 2.3, 2.4

___

Online:

Nebraska Department of Labor: https://www.dol.nebraska.gov

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