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Neb. jobless rate unchanged at 3.8 pct in February

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Nebraska's preliminary unemployment rate for February was unchanged at 3.8 percent, matching the revised rates for January and December, the state Labor Department said in a report released Friday.

The rate was two-tenths of a point lower than in February 2012 and less than half this year's national February rate of 7.7 percent.

The 3.8 percent state rate is the second-lowest figure in the country, trailing only North Dakota's 3.3 percent.

Nonfarm employment rose by nearly 3,000 jobs since January and by 7,450 jobs since February last year, the department said.

According to the state report, the three Nebraska industries showing the largest job gains in February were professional and business services, education and health services, and manufacturing.

"Manufacturing has been one of the bright spots in Nebraska's recovery from the recession," Labor Commissioner Catherine Lang said.

The number of unemployed people in Nebraska was estimated at 39,528 in February, which is lower than the revised January figure of 39,638. The February figure is also lower than the February 2012 figure of 40,517.

In Nebraska's largest city, Omaha, the preliminary unemployment dropped to 4.6 percent from 5 percent in January. The rate a year ago was 5.1 percent. Lincoln's unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 percent, compared with a revised 4.2 percent in January. A year ago, the city's February rate was 4.1 percent.

The unemployment rates for Lincoln and Omaha are not seasonally adjusted, the department has said, so they cannot be directly compared to the state unemployment rate.

Here are preliminary area labor market unemployment rates for February, followed by the revised January rates:

— Beatrice: 4.6, 5.3

— Columbus: 3.6, 4.0

— Fremont: 4.3, 4.7

— Grand Island: 3.9, 4.4

— Hastings: 3.9, 4.4

— Kearney: 3.3, 3.7

— Lexington: 4.7, 5.0

— Norfolk: 3.9, 4.3

— North Platte: 3.8, 4.2

— Red Willow: 3.4, 4.1

— Scotts Bluff: 4.7, 5.0