Nebraska's Rural Economy Growing, Rural Bankers Split of Infrastructure Bill Impact

Nov. 19, 2021, 10:31 a.m. ·

Ernie Goss of Creighton University in a building with a staircase behind him.
Creighton Professor Ernie Goss is the head of the university's economic forecasting group. (Photo courtesy of Creighton University).

A large number of exports and low interest rates are driving robust growth for Nebraska’s rural economy, according to Creighton University’s “Rural Mainstreet Index” for October. Adversely, the ten-state survey of rural bankers continues to report supply chain concerns largely caused by truck driver shortages.

Ernie Goss is a professor of economics at Creighton and leads the monthly analysis. Goss said the infrastructure bill passed this week causes concerns for 30 percent of rural bankers, but others saw positives for the state’s rural areas.

“More than one-fourth {of bankers} think high-speed broadband internet access will have a big, positive impact on the farming economy,” Goss said, “and for that matter, the rural economy in Nebraska.”

Overall, Goss said Nebraska’s gross domestic product, or GDP, has surpassed pre-COVID levels.

Non-farm employment increased recently in rural Nebraska by more than one percent. However, hiring issues persist in the hospitality and leisure industries. The Creighton professor said to expect hiring to slowly improve over the next few months.

Nebraska’s “Rural Mainstreet Index” increased by seven points to just over 74. A number of 50 or higher indicates a growing economy.