Even as District 17 and all of Nebraska residents work together to balance slowing the spread of COVID-19 with re-opening our economy, there is hope and good news in many respects. Nebraska’s unemployment rate is the lowest in the nation, dipping as low as 4% as reported in the September 22 Nebraska Chamber of Commerce news update. Even better than the September 16, CBS report that Nebraska fell below 5%. CBS also reported that, along with a few other states, Nebraska’s economy is operating at least 88% of where it was in early March before the pandemic, ranking Nebraska high on the Back-to-normal index.
This rebuilding of the Nebraska economy is good news. Re-opening Nebraska’s schools, its economy, and restoring jobs is important to each of us. The Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) recently released Unemployment statics for the week of September 27 through October 3, 2020. In its weekly report, the NDOL also reported a breakdown of over $1.1 billion in Unemployment benefits paid in Nebraska since March 29, 2020. The breakdown of $1,118,147,443 total benefits paid in Unemployment $298,397,142 has been paid in Regular Unemployment Insurance claims, $61,404,720 has been paid in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), $695,358,272 in $600/weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, $11,789,505 in Pandemic Emergency (Extended) Unemployment Compensation, and $50,522,895 in the $300/week retroactive payments of Lost Wages Assistance Program.
Importantly, the final report of the Nebraska Rural Poll was released October 12, 2020. “The report examines how rural Nebraskans are connected to agriculture as well as how they feel about the Livestock Friendly County designation and livestock development in the state.” Of no surprise, the report shows a strong connection between the people of Nebraska and her Agricultural roots. Those of us in the agricultural and rural communities remain #NebraskaStrong. The full report, which includes graphs and statistics, can be accessed at: https://ruralpoll.unl.edu/pdf/20agriculture.pdf
While agriculture is certainly a driving force of the Nebraska economy, the manufacturing sector also plays an important role in Nebraska’s economy and in its recovery. Last week, the Governor proclaimed October as Manufacturing Month in Nebraska, recognizing that the manufacturing sector employs at least 100,000 people, or 10% of Nebraska’s workforce. In Nebraska, our manufacturers have played a continued role in COVID-19 vaccine research and development, as well as in resource production, food production, and even in NASA’s space exploration efforts.
We have much to be proud of in Nebraska and in District 17. Our commitment to unity and to caring for our neighbor as we work through the impact of COVID-19 shows. It is part of what makes Nebraska a place where companies want to do business and where new people want to live, work, and raise families.
DISTRICT 17 COVID numbers. We continue to monitor positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. For the period of October 3, 2020 to October 9, 2020 (based on available data):
Dakota County: +79 (2367)
Thurston County: + 9 ( 335)
Wayne County: + 18 ( 253)
Hospitalizations in Nebraska have increased. Still, helping to “flatten the curve” of the spread has been instrumental in allowing the time needed to prepare and protect our state healthcare system. While leadership of local hospitals is naturally concerned when more hospitalizations occur, the Associated Press (AP) reports “senior hospital officials insist they can handle a significant surge in serious infections.” Further, AP reports that officials with the state’s biggest hospitals said they could expand capacity to handle even greater numbers, and even double capacity if needed. As District 17 residents, along with our neighbors across Nebraska, continue preventative health practices, we all help keep our healthcare system capable and prepared.
As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me by phone at 402-471-2716 or by email at email@example.com.