OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nine Nebraska counties hit record population highs last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday.
Nebraska’s three largest counties, Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy, were the largest they have ever been as of July 1, 2018, accounting for more than 55% of the state’s 1.9 million residents.
The three counties collectively added more than 12,000 people in the last year, said David Drozd, a research coordinator for the Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The state’s 90 other counties lost roughly 700 people combined, Drozd said.
Since the 2010 census, Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties have added more than 107,000 people, while the rest of the state has lost nearly 4,300.
The new figures show the Omaha metro area grew by nearly 10,000 people between 2017 and 2018, and the Lincoln metro area added about 3,100 people.
Lancaster County continued to grow, but at a slower rate. The county added 2,900 residents last year, which is down from 3,800 people in 2017.
Drozd attributes this in part to the narrowing gap between the state’s unemployment rate and national unemployment levels.
The national unemployment rate as of March was 3.8%, near the lowest level in five decades. Meanwhile, Nebraska’s unemployment rate was 2.9%. The gap in previous years has been much wider, which meant that more people were moving to Nebraska for jobs and fewer residents were leaving for employment elsewhere.
Drozd also credits an increase in deaths and retirement among baby boomers, and a slowdown in births.