Nebraska’s 2.8% March jobless rate down over past year

Nebraska’s unemployment rate remained unchanged last month at 2.8%, and it’s unclear whether any jobs lost to spring floodwaters will markedly change that figure soon.

The preliminary March rate was a tenth of a point under the year-ago figure of 2.9%, the Nebraska Labor Department said in a press release Friday. It also was well below March’s national figure of 3.8%, which is down two-tenths of a point from 4% a year ago. It’s the eighth straight month the Nebraska figure has been 2.8%.

Iowa’s unemployment rate remained at 2.4 percent in March, a rate that hasn’t changed for five months. The rate is the third-lowest in the country, tied with New Hampshire and behind Vermont and North Dakota.

Nebraska Labor Department spokeswoman Grace Johnson said she couldn’t comment on whether an unemployment rise was expected in the wake of the “bomb cyclone” last month. Early estimates indicate the blizzard in western and central Nebraska and flooding in eastern Nebraska caused nearly $1.4 billion in damage to property, farm operations and infrastructure.

The state report said the preliminary nonfarm employment figure last month was more than 1.01 million, down 1,172 over the past year and up 2,396 over the month.

The preliminary Omaha-area rate for March rose to 3.3% from 3.2% in February. Lincoln’s preliminary rate rose to 2.9% last month, compared with 2.8% in February. Grand Island’s preliminary rate reached 3.4% in March, a tenth of a point above the 3.3% in February.