Nearly a third of Nebraska’s 93 counties recorded growth over the previous five years, a new U.S. census data report revealed last month. The biggest population gain was with the Hispanic and Latino populations, who hold the title for the largest minority population in the state.
Counties such as, Douglas, Dodge, Colfax, Madison, Dakota and several others have a Hispanic population that exceeds 10 percent of its entire population, which according to David Drozd, research coordinator for the Center for Public Affairs Research, is enough to say they have a large Hispanic population.
”It just is a good even break point for kind of saying, well that's an established community, that's a major presence in the area, and while it's about 10% right now statewide, by 2050 our projections will show it's going to be a quarter of the state's population,” says Drozd.
Drozd explains there are two ways in which an area’s population can increase. One is net migration, which is when more people are moving into an area than moving out. The second is through natural change, when the population sees more births than deaths.
“When we look at population growth in the 1990s, about three quarters of the increase in the Hispanic/Latino population is from net migration and only about a quarter was from births succeeding deaths. More recently in the 2000s, that became fifty-fifty where half was from migration, and half was from births and deaths,” says Drozd.
He says the counties with the highest percentage of Hispanics tend to have a meat processing plant facility located in the area, which is economically attractive to Hispanic immigrants.
High Hispanic populations are also high along I-80, where major employers have their facilities.
Drozd says we can expect to see the number of Hispanics continue to grow each decade, as there is more education attainment within Hispanics, as well as job prospects and home ownership.
“The rapid growth of Hispanics in Nebraska is going to continue to have more political power, more economic power and be a driving force for the state's growth going forward.”