Bureau of Business Research


Date of this Version



Published in Business in Nebraska, Volume 60, No. 681, September 2005. Presented by the UNL Bureau of Business Research. Used by permission.


The cost of doing business in Nebraska influences many Nebraska proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations operating throughout the economy. Four times a year, the Bureau of Business Research surveys Nebraska businesses about factors that influence the cost of doing business in the state. This report presents the results of a survey sent to 500 Nebraska businesses during July and August of 2005.

The survey presents businesses with a list of 19 cost factors ranging from market-driven matters (such as the cost of supplies and raw materials, labor costs, or utility costs) to factors more directly tied to federal, state, and local policies (such as taxes and regulation). Respondents are asked to select their five top priorities for reducing the cost of doing business in the state. Responses are aggregated to determine which business cost factors appear most frequently among the top priorities of Nebraska businesses.

In this report, findings regarding business priorities are reported for the current survey. In addition, data from the current survey are combined with data from the previous survey (the first survey of this kind was conducted in February and March 2005) to generate a large enough sample to report priorities in three industry groupings: manufacturing, retail, and services. When a third and a fourth survey are conducted in the next six months, it will be possible to report priorities in additional industries and by region of the state.

Survey results, as always, should be viewed in context. Policy-makers should consider many other factors along with the priorities of businesses when making decisions. Another key point is that the survey asks businesses about their top priorities for reducing costs. A finding that a cost factor is a priority for business does not necessarily mean that this cost is higher in Nebraska than in other states. For example, businesses may choose reducing energy costs as a priority for Nebraska, even though some energy costs are low in Nebraska relative to the nation. The average price per kilowatt hour for electricity was 5.66 cents for Nebraska in March 2005 and 7.52 cents for the nation.

Policy-makers, therefore, may want to focus on business priorities whether or not Nebraska is a leader or a laggard on those priorities. There may be as much gain from further expanding the state’s advantage on certain cost factors as in addressing an area of disadvantage.