By Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2020

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska’s unemployment rate of 3.1% didn’t change in December, marking the sixth straight month it has held steady, officials said Friday.

The preliminary December rate was three-tenths of a point higher than the adjusted December 2018 rate of 2.8%, according to a Nebraska Labor Department report.

The Nebraska rate also was below December’s national preliminary rate of 3.5%, which was unchanged from November and down four-tenths of a point from the December 2018 rate of 3.9%.

“2019 was full of historically high employment,” said state Labor Commissioner John Albin. “The number of workers employed in Nebraska’s labor force has been above 1 million since March of 2019.”

Non-farm employment dropped a tenth of a point, to 1,042,933 in December, but that figure was up by 15,649 over the year, the report said.

Private industries with the most growth year over year were leisure and hospitality, up 3,801; professional and business services, up 3,475; and education and health, up 3,176. Month to month, the largest gains were seen in leisure and hospitality, up 1,108; education and health, up 681; and trade, transportation and utilities, up 678.

The preliminary Omaha-area unemployment rate for December remained 2.7%, the same rate as November and October. The December 2018 figure was 2.8%.

Lincoln’s preliminary rate fell last month to 2.4% from November’s 2.6%. The figure in December 2018 was 2.4%.

Grand Island’s preliminary rate rose a tenth to hit 2.9% in December. The year-ago December figure also was 2.9%, the report said.

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 November rates:

- Beatrice: 3.1% 2.9%

- Columbus: 2.8%, 2.6%

- Fremont: 2.6%, 2.6%

- Hastings: 3.1%, 2.9%

- Kearney: 2.1%, 2.4%

- Lexington: 2.6%, 2.6%

- Norfolk: 2.4%, 2.5%

- North Platte: 3.1%, 3.3%

- Red Willow: 2.4%, 2.6%

- Scottsbluff: 3.5%, 3.4%

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