November jobless rate up only slightly, but workforce challenge remains
In November, Nebraska’s state unemployment rate increased slightly to 3.1%, according to the Nebraska Department of Labor. The jobless rate still ties Nebraska with Vermont for the country’s lowest rate. In October, Nebraska had a 3% unemployment rate.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics would say that the difference between 3% and 3.1% is not statistically significant, and they’re right of course, but some states have seen unemployment rates increase by greater amounts as the pandemic has worsened in recent months.
And though there is reason for optimism due to the roll-out of vaccines, most states still have a significantly larger number of people out of work than the same time last year.
Among our neighbors, Colorado’s unemployment rate is currently 3.9 percentage points higher than last year, Iowa’s is 0.8 percentage points higher, Kansas‘ is 2.5 percentage points higher, Missouri is 1 percentage point higher, and Wyoming is 1.4 percentage points higher.
Even with a much lower number of Nebraskans claiming unemployment benefits than earlier this year, one figure the Bureau of Labor Statistics considers noteworthy is that Nebraska does have fewer people employed than last year. Most states are in the same situation.
29,600 fewer Nebraskans are employed than at the same time last year, a 2.9% reduction. While this is on the lower side among all states (states registering a smaller workforce range from a drop of 2.1% to 15.2%), it is a significant amount of people for a state that already has challenges with attracting and retaining workforce.
Though Nebraska and its neighbors have seen a generally faster rebound in unemployment rates when compared with some more populated or tourism-dependent states, all share similar challenges with residents having opportunities to reenter the workforce. Here’s how each state compares to last year.