LINCOLN, Neb. — The latest U.S. Census figures show that Nebraska’s rural-urban population divide continues to grow.
Numbers released Wednesday show that Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties grew about 10 percent from 2010-2017, an increase of more than 96,000 people. The state’s 90 other counties collectively lost about 2,300 people.
Last year, Douglas County added nearly 6,000 residents, Sarpy County increased by more than 3,000 and Lancaster County grew by about 3,800.
Lancaster County’s population growth was almost evenly split between migration and natural growth, which is when there are more births than deaths. The county is part of the Lincoln Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln draws in many people to the area, said David Drozd, a research coordinator for the Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Lincoln has a large amount of state and federal jobs and hasn’t lost any major employers, unlike Omaha which has lost ConAgra, Gordmans and the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant.
Despite those losses, the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area added about 9,300 residents between 2016 and 2017, bringing the area’s total population to 933,000. The area has had an 8 percent growth rate over the past decade.
“That ConAgra effect gets kind of muted here given all the other employment changes,” Drozd said.
Omaha could reach 1 million people by 2024 or 2025, he said.
Overall, Nebraska has grown just over 5 percent since 2010, compared to Iowa’s growth rate of about 3 percent and Kansas’s growth rate of about 2 percent.
Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com