Nebraska's economic outlook rebounds

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Posted: Friday, March 15, 2013 12:00 am

The Leading Economic Indicator for Nebraska, which predicts economic growth six months into the future, grew modestly in February, staying on the positive side largely because of an abrupt change in business owners’ outlook.

After five consecutive months of declining expectations, business owners’ outlook saw the largest improvement in the 18-month history of the survey. Business owners who responded to the Survey of Nebraska Business predicted solid increases in sales and employment over the next six months, said Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research.

“Strong growth in business expectations led to the rise,” Thompson said.

The five other components of the index fell in February, although modestly. Building permit numbers show the housing recovery appears to still be on track, Thompson said.

Initial unemployment insurance claims rose modestly, airline passenger counts fell slightly and the value of the U.S. dollar rose, which tends to limit future export activity. Manufacturing hours fell slightly for the month.

Thompson said he expects the Nebraska economy to grow “solidly” throughout 2013.

Omaha firm denies allegations in suit over health insurance

A Nebraska man has sued his former employer, saying the company fired him because his medical bills were contributing to the company’s rising cost of health insurance and he refused to fire another employee adding to those costs.

Theodore Bowser said in the federal lawsuit, initially filed in Lancaster County, that he was fired from WDD Inc., a lumber, millwork and window company in Omaha, in October 2011 after working there for five months. Bowser said he has a disability that requires expensive medical treatment, and that WDD was aware of that when he was hired.

Bowser also said he was asked by WDD to fire a subordinate who has a relative with a serious illness insured under the company’s health plan. Bowser said he refused and that the company retaliated by terminating his position.

The company denied the allegations, arguing in a court brief that Bowser had not pursued other avenues for relief before bringing a lawsuit. It also said WWD did not “engage in any intentional discrimination with malice or reckless indifference to the federally protected rights of” Bowser.

– The Associated Press

Jobless claims to require new work search log

Starting today, individuals filing for unemployment payments in Nebraska will be required to complete a new version of an online work search log at www.dol.nebraska.gov.

The new version of the log includes more detailed questions for unemployment claimants, such as the names of those contacted about employment and their contact information.

Previously, work searches could be recorded only when an individual was claiming benefits online or immediately after. The revised application allows the Nebraska Department of Labor to gather more verifiable information on work search activity.

In addition to looking for work and meeting monetary guidelines, unemployment recipients are also required to register for work at NEworks.nebraska.gov and maintain an active online resume.

— Paige Yowell

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