San Francisco (CNN Business)This recession may be wildly different from our last one, but one thing remains constant between the two: Nebraska’s low unemployment rate.
In May, Nebraska logged the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 5.2%, according to preliminary non-farm state unemployment data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. Nebraska’s rate improved from April’s 8.7% rate, which was among the lowest in the nation.
“We retain advantages … in the sense of having a larger share of our economy in sectors that weren’t as hard-hit,” Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told CNN Business.
Nebraska doesn’t have a heavy reliance on tourism and its largest economic generators are food production; trucking and rail; and insurance and financial services. Food and commercial transportation are considered necessities, and employees working in industries such as insurance and financial services are often able to work remotely. Plus, Nebraska’s lockdown measures weren’t as extensive as other states, he said.
The Cornhusker State long has credited its dependable and diverse economy for maintaining stability in uncertain times. During the Great Recession, its unemployment rate never topped 5% while the national average was practically twice that level.
“We’re typically one of the low unemployment rate states,” Thompson said, noting the state has been highlighted by national outlets for its outlier status. In addition to the diverse make-up of industries, aspects such as the central location and educated workforce have benefited the state’s labor market.
It’s only when the national economy gets to its peak that other states pass Nebraska by, he said.
This recession bears different markings than the last one — it’s largely “man made” in that industries were temporarily shuttered in an attempt to preserve public health and safety. Leisure and hospitality businesses were walloped, resulting in tourism-dependent states like Nevada and Hawaii having the largest amount of residents on the unemployment rolls.
By comparison, the tourism-heavy Nevada posted a preliminary unemployment rate for May of 25.3%, down from a 30.1% rate in April, according to BLS data.