Gov. Ricketts pleased with population growth; Congressional delegation projection

January 3, 2019

LINCOLN - Gov. Pete Ricketts is pleased the Nebraska population continues to grow.

Nebraska added roughly 11,700 people last year, with a total state population now at 1.93 million.

Ricketts sees it as an outgrowth of a strong state economy.

“Over the last three years for example we’ve maintained over a million non-farm jobs. Since 2014, we have the third highest wage growth of any state in the country. We certainly continue to attract companies to invest. As I just mentioned, with the economic development projects and the Governor’s Cup that we’ve won two years in a row with regards to the per-capita projects,” Ricketts tells reporters. “So, all these things are indicative that we have companies investing here, that people can find the jobs, they’re getting better paying jobs, and that we’re growing out state.”

The only mar to an otherwise upbeat population assessment is the loss of jobs and subsequent loss of population when ConAgra moved its headquarters to Chicago and Cabela’s was bought out by Bass Pro Shops; the top economic blows absorbed by the state. It is estimated approximately 3,300 Nebraskans left the state when they lost their jobs.

Ricketts says that should point up the need to expand opportunities.

“I know that for example, just anecdotally, talking to some people for example from ConAgra, they didn’t go to Chicago, because they love living in Nebraska,” Ricketts says. “And that’s what we want to create, those opportunities that if a company does make a change, that Nebraskans that are here in our state can find other opportunities to be able to pursue that if the company leaves, they can find a job with another company.”

Perhaps the best news from the latest population numbers for Nebraska and the country as a whole is that Nebraska is projected to keep all three of its Congressional seats.

“It’s a huge deal,” according to Ricketts. “Obviously, we think we’re on track to retain those in the next census. That helps us make sure that we’ve got a voice in Congress and we’re on track to do that. So, very pleased about that.”

Nebraska ranks near 20th among the states in population growth.

The numbers come from the Census Bureau’s count between July of 2017 and July of this year. The state population has increased for 31 consecutive years. The last population loss came in 1987, when agriculture found itself in crisis.

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