September 2021: Nebraska unemployment reached new record low

September 2021: Nebraska unemployment reached new record low

In August, Nebraska saw its lowest unemployment rate since the state started keeping records of unemployment data in 1976. At 2.2%, the August rate was also the lowest in the nation.

Nebraska’s September unemployment figures have now been released and the state is again posting the lowest unemployment rate in the nation and the lowest rate in the state’s history, at 2.0%. Many regional measures of unemployment, particularly in Greater Nebraska, were closer to 1%. The next lowest state is Utah at 2.4% followed by Idaho, New Hampshire, and South Dakota, which are all at 2.9% for the month of September. Nevada and California remain the highest with a 7.5% unemployment rate.

According to the labor force summary, Nebraska had 1,002,234 people employed and only 20,687 unemployed, or actively looking for work, in the month of September.

Nebraska workers are returning to the job market with the labor force participation rate remaining steady at 68.4%—a positive sign for Nebraska’s economy since this is well above the national average of 61.6% for labor force participation rate. This is an important labor market measure because it represents the amount of labor in the state available to produce goods and services. Continuing to have a high participation rate coupled with a low unemployment rate is a sign of a robust job market.


July 2021

August 2021

September 2021

Unemployment Rate




Labor Force












Labor Force Participation Rate




Source: Nebraska Dept. of Labor, current month is preliminary seasonally adjusted, previous months are revised. 

Although the private sector gained 1,191 jobs in September compared to the month prior, this needs to be looked at in the context of the many industries across the state. Construction and manufacturing saw a 600 job decrease compared to August, while education and health services saw a 200 job drop. On a positive note, leisure and hospitality reported 200 more jobs in September, a continuing positive trend for an industry hardest hit by the pandemic. The other area to note that saw job growth was professional services, growing 300 jobs.

While Nebraska’s economy is continuing to recover from the pandemic, it still faces daunting challenges—not only those brought on by COVID, but those that predate the pandemic. It is no secret there is a housing shortage in the state, and with construction jobs not seeing robust growth, it is worrisome whether this problem will correct itself.

Nearly 200 different jobs in Nebraska require a government license, and at a time when Nebraska is in need of highly skilled labor, we need to change the policies that make it harder for job seekers to move to Nebraska to enter a career in our state. By enacting a universal recognition policy, it would allow people with in-demand workforce skills to have a path to licensure and ultimately help supply more workers and entrepreneurs in communities with tight labor markets.

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