Nebraska’s talented workforce and great job opportunities are two pillars which have helped make our state the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family. While Nebraska has boasted low unemployment relative to other states in recent years, our state hit a new landmark this summer. In July, Nebraska posted its lowest unemployment rate since 2000 at 2.8 percent, the fourth-best unemployment rate in the nation.
While our state’s unemployment is at the lowest point in almost two decades, many Nebraskans are still looking for new opportunities. Whether it’s someone looking to reenter the workforce or someone looking for a job that better fits their skills, Nebraska’s low unemployment rate means there are lots of open opportunities which job creators are looking to fill.
One way in which we’re helping to connect Nebraskans to these opportunities is our innovative reemployment program, NEres. Participation in NEres is not only required for anyone receiving unemployment benefits, but it’s also open to any Nebraskans looking for new employment opportunities. Through NEres, unemployed Nebraskans are given personalized help in their job searches, often with amazing results. Nebraskans who are enrolled are better able to identify their goals and get back to work more quickly.
David is one of many individuals who has been helped by NEres. David worked in a grant-funded position which was eliminated after the grant expired in 2016. This resulted in David being laid off at the end of the grant. After interviewing at multiple firms, he was unable to find employment. After enrolling in some sessions with his job coach, David secured a position as an information technology specialist for a local community college.
In addition to NEres, my administration has launched other innovative workforce initiatives to connect Nebraskans to new employment opportunities. Our Department of Labor (DOL) is partnering with Health and Human Services to help Nebraska’s families receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits find better job opportunities. The SNAP reemployment program provides resume-writing support, sessions on how to search for a job and job interview coaching, among other opportunities.
Both of these programs are not only connecting Nebraskans to better opportunities, but they are also helping Nebraska’s job creators identify the talent they need. It can be difficult to find a qualified candidate, especially in a low-unemployment climate like Nebraska’s. These programs make it easier for businesses to find individuals who will contribute to their success.
Marriott Hotels has hired 27 NEres participants and has praised the program’s outcomes.
“Nebraska’s reemployment training program boosted these applicants' skills and gave them the confidence to believe they had the ability to be successful," said Chris Dunn, Marriott’s director of human resources.
Laura Kloss, lab manager at the Prodenco Group, has recruited new team members through the state’s SNAP reemployment program, saying, “We have placed two individuals through the program. They would not have had a chance by resume alone, due to a lack of experience. But this program gave them a foot in the door. Thank you for allowing us to contribute and invest in the futures of these two employees.”
Innovative programs like these are helping solidify Nebraska’s ranking as a great place to do business. Forbes Magazine ranks Nebraska as the third-best state in the United States for business. The workforce is a key part of any business climate, and an area we must continue to work on to maintain this ranking, which has made our state an attractive place for investment by nationally recognized brands as well as startups.
Since the beginning of the year, Nebraska’s business-friendly climate has attracted over $1 billion of investments. Facebook announced that they’re building a brand new data center in Papillion. That data center will provide at least $300 million of investment to the surrounding areas. Costco is also expanding their operations in Nebraska with the construction of a $300 million chicken processing plant. We’ve also seen major investments in the biofuels, aerospace and manufacturing industries across Nebraska.
In addition to these major investments, Nebraska is also home to Silicon Prairie, which has fostered an innovative startup culture. In recent weeks, 25 Nebraska companies were recognized by Inc. Magazine as some of the fastest-growing in the nation. Startups like Hudl and Spreetail are now hubs for high-tech employment. These companies invite young talent from across the nation and provide opportunities for our university graduates here at home.
Whether you’re seeking employment, searching for talent or looking to grow a new or established business, Nebraska is the best place in the world to grow your career or company. My team continues to develop strategies to support growth opportunities for Nebraska’s workforce and job creators.