Nebraska Ranks Below Average in Job and Population Growth
At the beginning of this month, the Platte Institute released a new video about two small business people facing barriers to making an honest living. One of them, Brandy McMorris, successfully advocated for legislation enabling her to return to work on her hair braiding business in July, when the new state law takes effect.
The other entrepreneur, Luke French, ended up selling his food truck to an operator in Missouri. The City of Lincoln would not allow his truck to be parked in public parking areas where he could sell his food, so he gave up the business. So far, the city isn’t changing its policy toward the food truck scene.
It might seem like Brandy and Luke are just strangers who didn’t get a fair shake. But their stories are not unique. Bureau of Labor Statistics data suggest that too many restrictions stand in the way of success for Nebraskans, preventing the creation of new jobs that can improve quality of life and economic opportunities for you and your family.
From 2004-2014, Nebraska lagged behind the national average in employment growth, which measures the gross amount of new jobs created.
When people feel that a location no longer provides the opportunity to live the life they want, they sometimes vote with their feet and find alternatives. In the Platte Institute’s new policy brief series Removing Barriers in Nebraska, we will identify the states Nebraska is competing with for residents, jobs, and taxpayers.
You can view our policy briefs and our forthcoming release schedule at PlatteInstitute.org/GoodLife.
Our first of six issues, Why Growing Nebraska Matters, reveals that retaining and attracting more people and entrepreneurs to our state are not just about our own sense of pride, but our own well-being.
Greater economic growth requires more investment, and more citizens who want to put down roots in Nebraska and provide their skills in our workforce. But despite a very stable state economy from 2004-2014, Nebraska also lagged behind the national average in population growth. If that trend continues, Nebraskans will create less wealth than their counterparts in faster-growing states in the years ahead.
Our new policy brief series also shows how even small variations in growth can add up through the years.
Take Texas’ population growth for example, which ranked third nationally on a percentage basis. It turns out that an annual increase of 1.87 percent for one the most populated states in the country is a lot of people.
4.4 million more people live in Texas than just a decade ago, which is well over two times Nebraska’s total population. These are people who will overwhelmingly contribute to Texas’ economy, pay taxes in the state and its communities, and create new businesses and jobs.
In future editions of Removing Barriers in Nebraska, the Platte Institute will look at our key competitor states (Texas is certainly one), and which public policies they are pursuing on taxes, spending, education, labor, regulation, and entrepreneurship.
To be sure, there is no perfect state that always makes the right call or never has challenges, but looking at our country’s most successfully growing states can provide a better picture of how our elected officials could be working to put the Good Life within reach for more Nebraskans.