Nebraska Population Steadily Swells, Matching U.S. Growth Rate

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January 4th, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. — The U.S. Census Bureau released figures last month that show that Nebraska is still growing steadily and now just under the two million population mark.

David Drozd, research coordinator at UNO’s Center for Public Affairs Research, says that Nebraska is matching the national growth rate for the first time in a long while.

“We are right at the U.S. growth rate in the last year, and that is something that Nebraska has not been able to do very often historically,” Drozd says. “This 2010s decade is the closest we’ve been to the U.S. growth rate since pioneer days, so we’re doing relatively well.”

He continues: “We have two different trends going on across the state. Our metro areas are increasing in population and doing so quite rapidly, and our rural portions of the state are struggling from some population loss. That’s nothing new; it’s been going on for decades.”

For now, it appears Nebraska will keep its three congressional seats when redistricting occurs after the 2020 census. Drozd spoke on the implications of losing representation in Congress.

“All of Nebraska suffers if we would lose the seat,” he says. “If we lost the seat, it would probably go to a fast-growing place such as Texas, Florida, or California. Those are all places that have different priorities than we do, such as being on a coast—they have hurricanes, and we don’t have that here. So hurricane flooding could be an issue that they support, whereas we would promote more agricultural issues.

“There’s different types of funding that go out, and we want to have our interests here in Nebraska represented by our Congressmen. It’s good to be able to keep the three seats that we already have.”

With this growth in mind, what can Nebraska do to continue to increase its population?

“Where we stand out is our births. For whatever reason, Nebraska tends to have a large number of children,” Drozd says. “There’s always a joke—there’s something in the water here—but I think it’s more that we are a place that’s very community and civic minded. We have a lot of volunteerism and religious participation. So we just want to have a supportive environment for families.”

Drozd says Nebraska also scores well in labor force participation among many different demographics.

“So when you combine the workforce aspects with that high birth rate, you have a lot of demands for childcare and education,” he says. “We want to make sure that families feel stable, safe, and that they have the childcare options available to them and at a price that’s affordable—one of the fastest-growing costs is childcare and higher education.

“We just want to make sure that we have policies and programs in place to support the families so they feel that they are prepared and can accept the responsibilities that childbearing brings.”

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