Bureau of Business Research


Date of this Version



Business in Nebraska vol. 56, no. 653a


Copyright 2001 by Bureau of Business Research, University of Nebraska.



Nebraska has not fully participated in the recent upsurge in national economic growth. From the second half of 1999 through the first half of 2000, the nation's Gross Domestic Product, the broadest measure of an economy's performance, grew 6 percent after accounting for inflation. Those who follow the national economy now are wrestling with the problem of whether a soft landing from those unsustainably high rates of growth can be managed, or whether there will be a downturn.

In contrast, Nebraska is wrestling with the problem of anemic growth. The growth rate for Nebraska's nonfarm employment likely has hit bottom in 2000, expanding only 0.5 percent. The growth rate in total nonfarm employment will nearly double in 2001 and increase 1.4 percent in 2002 (Figure 1). All these growth rates are well below the average annual growth of 2. 1 percent in the 1990s. The slowdown in growth rates is a direct result of Nebraska's tight labor market. The cure for the labor tightness is an expansion of the labor force. The state's natural population growth adds about 1 percent per year to its working-age population. A more rapid expansion of the labor force must rely on workers being attracted to the state. Creating quality jobs to attract and retain a well-paid workforce that can support the public services it demands must be a paramount goal.

Nonfarm Employment

Construction and Mining

Transportation, Communication, and Utilities (TCU)

Retail Trade

Wholesale Trade

Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (FIRE)