Low Unemployment in Nebraska: Workers Thrive, Businesses Cope

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Harry’s Wonder Bar is a trusted old dive in Nebraska’s capital, frequented by office clerks, construction workers and graduate students alike: the sort of wood-paneled place with a pool table in the back where phones generally stay in pockets, second fiddle to casual conversation, and beer mugs come frosted regardless of the season.

As a half-dozen or so happy hour patrons gathered at the bar on a recent afternoon, most had something remarkable in common: Everybody seemed to know somebody who had earned a significant raise, or multiple raises, in the past year — and many, if not all, had received a jump in pay themselves.

That included the bartender on the early-evening shift, Nikki Paulk, an easygoing woman with a flash of pink hair. “I’m in hot demand, baby,” she said, mentioning “desperate” employers with a burst of a grin. “I’ve worked at like six bars in the last six months because I just keep getting better offers I can’t turn…

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