Bureau of Business Research


Date of this Version



Business in Nebraska vol. 52 no. 614


Copyright 1996 by Bureau of Business Research, University of Nebraska.


Population changes are watched closely by business people, educators, and policymakers. Issues such as workforce availability, school enrollment, and taxation all are affected by population trends. A key variable driving population change is migration-the movement of people into and out of a geographic area.

In the first half of the 1990s, a substantial number of counties in Nebraska reversed the losses of population due to outmigration that had characterized the 19805. These positive trends will continue over the next 15 years. There remain, however, a large number of counties, particularly those defined as rural, that have not reversed the outmigration of the 1980s. Outmigration continues to result in major losses of young, working-age populations for these counties. Smaller and older populations will characterize these counties into the foreseeable future.

While the state as a whole experienced substantial outmigration throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the 1980s was a period notable for the depth and breadth of the outmigration activity. Ninety of the state's 93 counties experienced net outmigration during the decade. The three counties that experienced net inmigration-Lancaster, Sarpy, and Washington-were in metropolitan areas. Rural counties bore the brunt of outmigration. By the end of the decade, 40 of the state's 52 rural counties experienced double digit rates of net outmigration. Figure 1 shows the migration patterns of the 1980s by county type.

Future Migration Patterns

Attractive Nonmetropolitan Counties