- Associated Press - Friday, January 20, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska’s preliminary unemployment rate remained steady at 3.4 percent in December, matching the November figure, according to a state report released Friday.

The Nebraska Department of Labor said the rate was fourth-tenths of a percentage point higher than the December 2015 rate of 3 percent but well below the preliminary December 2016 national rate of 4.7 percent. The national rate rose a tenth of a point from November’s 4.6 percent.

“December saw an over-the-year increase in nonfarm employment and was the 10th consecutive month in which nonfarm employment topped 1 million,” said state Labor Commissioner John Albin. “Employment in trade, transportation and utilities reached a new high in December.”

Nonfarm employment grew by nearly by nearly 8,200 over the year. Private industries with the most growth year over year were professional and business services, up 3,694; trade, transportation and utilities, up 2,228 over the year; and leisure and hospitality, up 1,796.

The preliminary Omaha area rate rose three-tenths of a point, to 3.2 percent last month compared with November’s 2.9 percent. The Lincoln rate rose four-tenths of a point, to 2.8 percent, and the Grand Island-area rate jumped five-tenths of a point, to 3.5 percent in December from 3 percent in November.

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 December, followed by revised figures for November:

- Beatrice: 3.5, 3.0

- Columbus: 3.3, 3.0

- Fremont: 3.1, 2.9

- Hastings: 3.4, 2.8

- Kearney: 2.7, 2.4

- Lexington: 3.2, 2.8

- Norfolk: 2.9, 2.5

- North Platte: 3.1, 2.9

- Red Willow: 2.7, 2.5

- Scottsbluff: 3.8, 3.5

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