March unemployment rates up slightly in Nebraska, Iowa

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Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014 12:00 am

March unemployment rates rose 0.1 percentage points in Nebraska and Iowa from February, but are lower than a year ago. The labor force and the number of unemployed grew in both states from February, with more people looking for work.

In Nebraska, seasonally adjusted unemployment was 3.7 percent in March. Only Vermont and North Dakota had lower rates in March.

“Overall, Nebraska’s economy continues to show improvement over last year,” Labor Commissioner Catherine Lang said. “It is not unusual for us to see the unemployment rate slightly increase from February to March.”

The total labor force grew by 1,452 over the month, an increase of 0.1 percent, while total employment was flat. There were 38,459 unemployed Nebraskans, more than in February but down from 40,565 a year ago.

Nonfarm employment, not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, added nearly 2,500 jobs since February and more than 8,000 jobs since last March. Lang said industries that showed growth over the month included construction, leisure and hospitality and manufacturing.

In Iowa, unemployment was 4.5 percent in March, sharing the nation’s seventh-lowest rate with three other states.

Iowa hit a milestone in March with record-high total employment of 1,615,200, up 1.7 percent from a year ago, Iowa Workforce Development director Teresa Wahlert said.

However, nonfarm employment was down slightly in March, influenced by weak hiring in professional and business services, and declines in goods-producing sectors, Wahlert said. Manufacturing lost 1,300 jobs, the fourth loss in the last five months. Iowa saw employment gains in 1,500 in leisure and hospitality, a sector that Wahlert said has steadily trended up since 2010, evidence of consumers’ willingness to spend on entertainment.

Nonfarm jobs grew over the year by 17,300 jobs, 1.1 percent.

The number of unemployed Iowans rose 2.4 percent to 76,000 in March from February, but is down 4.2 percent from a year ago.

The U.S. unemployment rate for March was steady at 6.7 percent.

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