Nebraska jobless rate lowest in nation once again

The state’s 1.7% unemployment in December was a historical low

By: - January 25, 2022 2:04 pm
Hiring sign

A company advertises a help wanted sign on April 09, 2021 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Nebraska has again topped the nation in recording the lowest unemployment rate of all states, followed by Utah, Oklahoma and Idaho.

The state’s seasonally adjusted rate for December was 1.7% — that’s the lowest on record for any state since the collection of unemployment started in 1976.

“Nebraska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to drop, reaching another historical low in December,” Labor Commissioner John Albin said Tuesday when the latest data was released. “December 2021 marks the fifth straight month that Nebraska has had a historically low unemployment rate.”

Christopher Decker, an economist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said such historic low unemployment levels are a double-edge sword.

Among the good news, he said, is that Nebraskans looking for work are more likely able to secure a job they want. But the state also faces a shrinking labor force compared to before the pandemic, he said, and that poses a problem for economic growth.

“Companies looking to hire are going to find it difficult to find people that they consider good fits for their open positions,” Decker said. “That could ultimately have some drag on business activity.If employers can’t get the labor necessary, it could also discourage potential companies from locating to Nebraska.”

The employment counts are based on Census data surveys.

Labor Department statistics show that private industries with the most employment growth compared to a year ago were leisure and hospitality, education and health, and trade transportation and utilities.

Nationally, the seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for December 2021 was 3.9%, down from 4.2% the month before and from 6.7% a year ago.

At the bottom of the national pack, in terms of seasonally adjusted low unemployment rates, were California, 6.5%; Nevada, 6.4% and New Jersey, 6.3%. 

Second to Nebraska, Utah’s was 1.9% and then Oklahoma with 2.3%.

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Cindy Gonzalez
Cindy Gonzalez

Senior Reporter Cindy Gonzalez, an Omaha native, has more than 35 years of experience, largely at the Omaha World-Herald. Her coverage areas have included business and real estate development; regional reporting; immigration, demographics and diverse communities; and City Hall and local politics.