Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to johnc@cfra.org.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Study Says Rural Nebraska Continues to Lose Population

LINCOLN (Associate Press) - A new report from The Center for Public Affairs confirms that many of Nebraska's towns are shrinking and the rural population is aging. Population analysts based at the University of Nebraska at Omaha produced the report.

The study found about half of all counties in the state now have higher death rates than birth rates, and in the state's most rural counties, 21 percent of the population is older than 65. The combined population of three counties - Lancaster, Douglas and Sarpy - now exceeds the population in the rest of the state, the analysts said.

Jerry Deichert, director of the research center, said the growing elderly population combined with the lower birth rates will "be putting a lot of pressure on some of those areas." The problem is the younger population isn't there to support the older population, Deichert said.

Richardson County had a net loss of 448 people between April 2000 and July 2005. Valerie Buckminster, administrator of the 119-bed Falls City Care Center, isnt surprised. "I think the population of Falls City itself over the last five to 10 years has taken a decline," Buckminster said. "We just recently lost a couple of factories that have closed down and moved elsewhere. Its rough times for us."

As of Tuesday, 66 jobs will be moving to India by Ames True Temper, maker of hammers and other striking tools. Falls City residents Bart Keller and Gail Gerlt remain upbeat. Keller, owner-manager of Farm and City Supply, is involved in the Greater Falls City Economic Development and Growth Enterprise. He points to a new library, new aquatic park and school renovations as reasons for optimism. "I think we really do have some good times ahead of us," Keller said.

Gerlt, a member of the Falls City High School class of 1958 who recently moved from California, has joined a Come On Home Campaign that uses the power of persuasion to reach other people who ready to retire. "I feel retirement people who are coming back here have made their money. We're not taking anybody's jobs," Gerlt said. "So we're paying full taxes and we're able to pick up on some of the houses and stuff that are available here."

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree, johnc@cfra.org

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

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