- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 23, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska’s preliminary December unemployment rate matched the 2.7 percent rate of November and October, the state said in a report released Tuesday.

The Nebraska Labor Department said the rate is down six-tenths of a point from the December 2016 rate of 3.3 percent and remained well below the U.S. rate, which was unchanged at 4.1 percent.

“2017 has been a strong year for our nonfarm jobs sector of the economy,” state Labor Commissioner John Albin said. “This is the first time that Nebraska had more than 1 million jobs in each month of the year.”

Also, he said, Nebraska ended the year with the fourth-lowest preliminary unemployment rate in the nation.

Nebraska’s nonfarm employment was 1,037,248, up 10,378 over the year and up 2,245 over the month. Private industries with the most growth year over year were leisure and hospitality, up 4,998; professional and business services, up 3,448; and education and health services, up 1,781. Month to month, the largest gains were seen in financial activities, up 642; trade, transportation and utilities, up 579; and leisure and hospitality, up 556.

The preliminary Omaha-area rate rose to 2.8 percent last month from 2.5 percent in November. The new figure was four-tenths of a point lower than the revised December 2016 rate of 3.2 percent. Lincoln’s preliminary rate rose three-tenths of a point to hit 2.4 percent, compared with 2.1 percent in November. The December 2016 figure was 2.8 percent. Grand Island’s preliminary rate rose six-tenths of a point to 3.1 percent in December. The December 2016 rate was 3.5 percent.

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 the revised November rates:

- Beatrice: 3.3, 2.6

- Columbus: 2.7, 2.3

- Fremont: 2.9, 2.3

- Hastings: 3.2, 2.4

- Kearney: 2.3, 1.9

- Lexington: 2.8, 2.5

- Norfolk: 2.6, 2.2

- North Platte: 3.0, 2.5

- Red Willow: 2.6, 2.1

- Scottsbluff: 3.3, 3.0


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