Report: Steady economic growth seen for Nebraska

Farm Forum

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – State economic forecasters expect steady economic and job growth across most of the state industries through 2015, according to a report from the Nebraska Business Forecast Council released on July 12.

The council said it foresees total Nebraska job growth of 1.3 percent by the end of 2013, rising to 1.5 percent in 2014 and 1.6 percent in 2015. The council’s February report contained the same forecast.

The income growth for the state’s nonfarm workers is expected to drop this year to 2.2 percent from 4 percent last year, the council said, because the payroll tax rate cut expired. But 4.4 percent growth is expected in 2014 and 4.6 percent in 2015.

Farm incomes will continue descending from 2011’s record levels, the council said, dropping to $5.2 billion in 2013 and to $5 billion in 2014 and remain at $5 billion in 2015.

The council said an expected drop in corn prices this year would pose a bigger threat to Nebraska farm incomes were it not for the state’s “relatively unique counter-balancing effect” – major crop production and major livestock production. Lower crop revenue means lower feed prices for livestock producers who could anticipate higher profitability because they could afford to feed more animals.

The rebalancing of income flows “between the crop and livestock sectors would be more sustainable.”

Eric Thompson, an associate professor of economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said “a rebalanced Nebraska agriculture sector would maintain farm income near $5 billion per year. This amount is effectively the ‘new normal’ for Nebraska agriculture.”

But, the report said, that lower farm income level could hurt sales by manufacturers that serve the agricultural market.

Among its other forecasts, the council said it expects the state’s service sector to continue broad growth through 2015, gaining 7,600 to 9,300 jobs a year.