Nebraska unemployment ticks up as separate report ranks Huskers in top 10 states for labor productivity

By: - August 19, 2022 5:14 pm

Manufacturing employees in Draper, Utah, prepare COVID-19 test kits for shipment. (George Frey/Getty Images)

OMAHA — Nebraska’s unemployment rate has ticked up a bit to 2% but remains the second lowest in the country, according to preliminary and seasonally adjusted Department of Labor data released Friday.

Meanwhile, a separate report from a national publication, focused on digital transformation, shows Nebraska among the top 10 states for improved labor productivity over the past decade.

The analysis commissioned by, which was based on U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, ranked Nebraska No. 9 with a nearly 17% increase since 2012 in private nonfarm sector productivity.

Labor productivity % increase since 2012 

Washington, 30.31

California, 21.47

Kansas, 19.85

Colorado, 18.74

New Hampshire, 18.39

North Dakota, 18.28

Massachusetts, 17.25

Utah, 16.95

Nebraska, 16.86

Oregon, 16.75


During the 10-year study period, the researchers said that Nebraska’s labor compensation grew by nearly 44% and value-added output rose by 46%, from about $77 billion to nearly $112 billion.

They said employment and hours worked in the state rose only slightly, by 3.6% and 1.6%, respectively, during that period.

Digital tech hubs top list

Nebraska was sandwiched between Utah and Oregon in the rankings that revealed Washington and California on top, followed by Kansas and Colorado.

A spokesperson for the study said the two most-improved states are large digital tech hubs, and they likely were prepared for the remote working boom ushered in by the pandemic.

In reviewing the Labor Department’s latest monthly data release, Nebraska Labor Commissioner John Albin pointed out notable growth in Nebraska’s manufacturing industry.

The manufacturing sector added 2,733 jobs to its ranks, a nearly 3% growth since the 100,215 jobs reported a year ago.

“The manufacturing industry in Nebraska has been showing strong growth,” Albin said. “With employment at nearly 103,000, this is the largest employment number since January of 2003.”

Overall in the state, more than 1 million Nebraskans have been employed since August, Albin’s office noted in a media release. 

National unemployment down slightly

Other private industries with the most year-to-year growth in the state, according to department analysts, were professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and a grouping that includes trade, transportation and utilities.

The counts of employed and unemployed persons in the labor force are based on a Census Bureau survey. Individuals who claim unemployment benefits as well as those who aren’t claiming them can be counted among the unemployed, depending on the way they answer the survey. 

Individuals who are not working and are not seeking work are not considered part of the labor force and therefore are not included in the unemployment rate calculation.

Friday’s data release showed the state’s preliminary unemployment rate for July as slightly higher than the 1.9% for June, yet down from the 2.5% of a year ago.

Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July is reported to be 3.5%, down slightly from the month before and down from the 5.4% of a year earlier.

Unemployment rates*

*Figures for July, seasonally adjusted, preliminary data

Minnesota, 1.8

Nebraska, 2.0

Utah, 2.0

New Hampshire, 2.0

Vermont, 2.1

North Dakota, 2.3

South Dakota, 2.3

Kansas, 2.4

Iowa, 2.5

Missouri, 2.5

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


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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.