- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska’s population continued to grow steadily this year, but possibly not fast enough for the state to keep all three of its U.S. House seats after the 2020 Census.

The U.S. Census Bureau released new estimates Tuesday showing that Nebraska’s population had grown to 1,881,503 by July 1.

The state’s population was 0.67 percent higher than the July 2013 estimate of 1,868,969.

The nationwide population grew at a similar 0.7 percent rate to 318,857,056 this year, but other states, particularly in the South and West, grew at a more brisk pace.

David Drozd, research coordinator for the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Center for Public Affairs Research, said that although Nebraska’s population has grown for 27 years in a row, it could lose a House seat in the next once-a-decade congressional redistricting if other states have grown more quickly.

But Drozd said the latest population estimates are encouraging for Nebraska congressional seats.

“It appears Nebraska is in relatively good position to keep all 3 in the 2020 census,” Drozd said.

Since the last census, Nebraska has grown by 3 percent, or 55,162 people. That growth ranks 26th among all the states, and is close to the U.S. growth rate of 3.3 percent between 2010 and this year.

Drozd said that Nebraska’s growth rate often ranks in the low to mid 30s compared to other states, so the recent growth trends are positive.

But as the economy continues improving, Nebraska’s growth will likely slow. During the Great Recession, the state fared better than many places, but Nebraska is losing that advantage.

Nebraska’s growth in recent years outpaced nearby similar states of Iowa and Kansas. Iowa grew by 2 percent between 2010 and 2014 to rank 30th, and Kansas grew by 1.8 percent to rank 32nd.

Drozd said he analyzed five different possible growth rates for all the states to determine that Nebraska appears to have a good shot at keeping its Congressional districts in 2020. The state’s 3rd District already encompasses the western two-thirds of Nebraska.

“Nebraska is not in extreme danger of losing a Congressional seat,” Drozd said. “However, it would be foolish to get lulled into a false sense of security and think there is no danger.”



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