- Associated Press - Friday, April 15, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska’s preliminary unemployment rate remained 3 percent in March, matching the rates posted in February and January, according to a report released Friday.

The Nebraska Labor Department said the rate was two-tenths of a point higher than the 2.8 percent reported for March and February last year.

“Employment in a number of industries grew both over the month and over the year,” said Labor Commissioner John Albin. “Employment in education and health services reached a new high in March.”

Private industries with the most growth year-on-year were: education and health services, up 4,376; professional and business services, up 3,783; and leisure and hospitality, up 3,214. Month-to-month, the largest gain was seen in trade, transportation and utilities, up 2,057.

The new Nebraska rate remained well below the preliminary national unemployment rate of 5 percent in March - a tenth of a point higher than February’s 4.9 percent. The U.S. Labor Department says only Colorado’s rate of 2.9 percent, the 2.6 percent for New Hampshire and the 2.5 percent recorded for South Dakota were lower than Nebraska’s 3 percent.

The preliminary Omaha rate dropped a tenth of a point to 3.5 percent last month from 3.6 percent in February, while the Lincoln rate was unchanged at 2.8 percent. Grand Island’s March rate jumped to 4.9 percent in March from the 3.7 percent in February.

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 for February:

- Beatrice: 3.5, 3.7

- Columbus: 3.7, 3.9

- Fremont: 3.3, 3.3

- Hastings: 3.5, 3.4

- Kearney: 2.5, 2.3

- Lexington: 3.1, 3.2

- Norfolk: 2.8, 2.9

- North Platte: 3.3, 3.3

- Red Willow: 3.4, 3.4

- Scottsbluff: 3.1, 3.2

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