From year to year our Thanksgiving feasts reflect both the changes and constancy in our lives. Times may be tough, but we can always look across the table at family and friends, and put into words and laughs our gratitude and happiness. I for one am particularly thankful this year to be a Nebraskan. As our country and the world continue to recover from an international recession, Nebraska has emerged as a leader and a shining example. Our unemployment rate remains less than half of the national average and second-lowest in the country. We are projected to increase jobs and payroll next year by 1.3 percent, seventh in the country. And the Cornhusker State continues to help set the standard for agriculture -- ag will account for 6.8 percent of state GDP, third-largest in the country.
These statistics are far from just a happy coincidence. They help paint a picture of a state that prides itself on hard work and common sense. Through your letters and emails to me, I know Nebraskans are informed, passionate, and committed to making our state, our country, and the world a better place. In Nebraska, the word "neighbor" describes not a geographical distinction but a relationship. Nebraskans safely rely on each other knowing they themselves would just as easily return the favor.
This belief in individuals, families and communities is reflected in the local leaders Nebraskans elect and those who emerge through their own hard work. Statewide, our public servants and business owners make common sense decisions to improve and protect our long term future. They have the wisdom to make tough decisions and spend within their means. The Nebraska workforce and ag producers sustain a healthy economy and relationships predicated on common kindness.
The pragmatism we've grown so accustomed to in Nebraska is beginning to take hold in Washington. Less than a year after I announced my opposition to the Congressional earmark process, support has increased for a resolution to ban them and cut down on wasteful spending. And after the November election, momentum is already moving back toward a government that taxes less and encourages the entrepreneurial spirit with which Nebraskans are so familiar.
The thanks we give this year will bring great relief after a challenging year. We can happily count our blessings knowing that soon we will all be back at work for each other, that our engagement helps our state excel, and that our state continues to shape our country. The things for which we owe thanks differ from year to year, but our gratitude and commitment to our neighbors and to our great state will always remain on Thanksgiving.