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Nebraska's unemployment rate improved for the second straight month in August, coming in at 4.6 percent and maintaining the third-lowest rate in the nation, state officials said Tuesday.

July's unemployment rate was 4.7 percent and the June rate was 4.9 percent, according to the state Labor Department.

Nebraska's rate is less than half the national rate of 9.6 percent, and two-tenths of a point lower than the state's August 2009 rate of 4.8 percent.

Only North Dakota's 3.7 percent and South Dakota's 4.5 percent unemployment rates are lower than Nebraska's.

Labor Commissioner Catherine Lang credited a rise in manufacturing jobs - 250 positions added in August - for decreasing Nebraska's rate. She said the sector has seen growing employment in five of the past six months.

The state also said the leisure and hospitality sector saw job growth in August, adding 458 jobs.

The number of people employed in the state dropped to 930,426 in August from July's 932,330. The total labor force also declined, to 975,688 from 978,542 in July.

The unemployment rate continued to improve in Omaha, the state's largest city, and matched the August 2009 rate. The city's rate declined to 4.9 percent last month from July's 5.3 percent and June's 5.5 percent.

Unemployment improved to 3.9 percent in Lincoln in August, from July's 4.2 percent and June's 4.7 percent. In July 2009, the rate in the capital city was 4.3 percent.

Unemployment rates for Omaha and Lincoln are not seasonally adjusted and cannot be compared to the state unemployment rate.

Here are the preliminary labor market rates for August, followed by the revised July rates:

- Beatrice: 6.3, 5.1

- Columbus: 3.7, 4.0

- Fremont: 4.6, 5.2

- Grand Island: 3.9, 4.3

- Hastings: 4.1, 4.3

- Kearney: 3.1, 3.2

- Lexington: 4.8, 5.2

- Norfolk: 3.7, 4.1

- North Platte: 3.8, 4.2

- Red Willow: 3.6, 3.9

- Scotts Bluff: 4.8, 5.2

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Online:

Nebraska Department of Labor: http://www.dol.nebraska.gov

SOURCE

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