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2007.10.26 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@mail.unomaha.edu

Recent UNO Report Paints Historical Picture of Nebraska's Population

Omaha - Half of Nebraska’s counties have lost 30 percent or more of their population since 1950. In fact, 21 Nebraska counties experienced their highest census population more than 100 years ago. Overall, Nebraska has grown by about 10,000 persons annually since 1990.

Statistics like these are contained in the Nebraska Historical Population Report, prepared this fall by David Drozd and Jerry Deichert of the Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). The report dives deeper into the history of Nebraska’s population trends, concluding that many of the state’s rural counties continue to experience a decades-old trend of decreasing population.

The 99-page report, available online at www.unomaha.edu/cpar/, also identifies changes in total population rankings among Nebraska’s 93 counties. The rankings identify population numbers every 10 years using data from U.S. Censuses between 1860 and 2000.

“An evaluation of where Nebraska has been over time just might show us where we’re headed as a state,” said Drozd, a research associate with the Center for Public Affairs Research. “And it’s important to see how changes have been occurring at both the local and statewide levels.”

Gage County, for example, located in the southeastern part of the state, ranked third highest in Nebraska’s population in the early 1900s. However, Gage County dropped to 14th place in 2000. Sarpy County, however, was the third most populated county in 2000, compared to being the 55th most populous in 1920.

Nebraska’s population has grown in 82 of the 106 years between 1900 and 2006, according to the report. The state’s population has grown every year since 1987, and now has an estimated 1.77 million residents. While Nebraska continues to grow, it does so more slowly than the entire United States, with Nebraska’s annual growth rate being below that of the U.S. every year since 1961.

“Nebraska continues to gain population through natural increase, where the annual number of births is larger than the annual number of deaths,” Drozd said. “Net migration has tended to vary, with some years having net inmigration (more people moving into the state) and other years experiencing net outmigration (more people moving out of the state).”

The report also highlights state and county demographics, such as the number and percentage of persons under age 18 as well as 65 and over in each census. Additionally the report lists the annual number of births, deaths and natural change since 1949.

For more information on the Nebraska Historical Population Report, contact Drozd at ddrozd@mail.unomaha.edu or (402) 554-2132.

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