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TMCNet:  Nebraska only state with unemployment drop in February

[March 27, 2009]

Nebraska only state with unemployment drop in February

(Omaha World-Herald (NE) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Mar. 27--Nebraska was the only state where unemployment dropped last month.

The seasonally adjusted February unemployment rate was 4.2 percent, down from 4.3 percent in January but still significantly ahead of the 3 percent rate in February 2008.

Preliminary figures from the State Department of Labor showed 41,988 Nebraskans out of work, down from 42,803 in January but still above last February's 30,000.

The 949,353 people with jobs in February was 1,697 more than in January but 13,811 fewer than in February 2008.

Iowa's unemployment rate rose from 4.8 percent in January to 4.9 percent last month, a full percentage point higher than a year ago.

Seven states had unemployment rates that topped 10 percent last month. That's up from four states in January, the U.S. Labor Department reported.

The U.S. unemployment rate, released earlier this month, rose to 8.1 percent in February, the highest in more than 25 years.

Michigan's jobless rate climbed to 12 percent, the highest in the country. South Carolina registered the second-highest at 11 percent and Oregon came in third at 10.8 percent. Wyoming once again had the lowest unemployment rate, 3.9 percent.

Scott Hunzeker, a state labor market statistician, cautioned against reading too much into Nebraska's one-month numbers.

"It's good news the rate didn't go up again. Holding steady is not a bad thing." The unemployment rate tends to stay steady January to February and then fall in March, he said. Year-over-year comparisons are a better measure.

The unemployment rate in the five-county Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area also dropped, to 4.8 percent from January's 5.2 percent. The February 2008 rate was 3.6 percent.

The number of people without jobs in the metro area dropped by 1,722 from January to February's 21,880 but was 7,419 higher than in February 2008.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

To see more of the Omaha World-Herald, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.omaha.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, Omaha World-Herald, Neb.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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