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Top 5 Industries in Nebraska: Which Parts of the Economy Are Strongest?

By    |   Monday, 13 Apr 2015 07:04 PM

Despite a long agricultural heritage, Nebraska's modern economy is well diversified beyond corn and beef. Some of the major industries in Nebraska include military, financial services, transportation, and, of course, agriculture.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway made him the “Oracle of Omaha” and much of the nation's rail traffic passes through Union Pacific's giant rail yards in the state. The diverse and growing industries in Nebraska have helped the state maintain the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country, as of Dec. 2014. 

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Agricultural Manufacturing

Beef, pork, and commodity processing is big business in Nebraska. Food manufacturing, including meat processing, is the largest industry in Nebraska by total payroll dollars. Nebraska agriculture and food processing outperformed the national average in output, even though employment growth in this area lagged, according to the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. Further increases in efficiency will help make sure Nebraska's farmers and companies feed the rest of the country.

Finance and Insurance

Berkshire Hathaway and Mutual of Omaha are just two of the major financial firms that call Nebraska home. First Data, the financial transaction processing company that was once part of American Express, was founded in Nebraska in the 1960s and maintains a large processing center in Omaha with about 5,000 employees. Financial services employment grew 9.5 percent in Nebraska from 2001 to 2007 compared to a 6.4 percent growth nationwide, NDED said. Growth in this sector is expected to remain at a slow pace as it has since the 2008 economic crisis, according to University of Nebraska economic forecasters.

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Health Care and Social Assistance

Health care is one of the top industries in nearly all U.S. states, including Nebraska. The University of Nebraska Medical Centers is a major research facility and has recently developed respected programs for public health and aging. However, small private biomedical research base and few pharmaceutical company research offices resulted in the state lagging behind the national average in economic growth in the health care and biomedical industry.

Military and Defense Contractors

Offutt Air Force Base alone provides $627 million per year in payroll to the Nebraska economy. Another $476 million in expenditures are spent each year to support operations of the U.S. Strategic Command nuclear and missile defense systems and the other missions at the base, according to an economic analysis.

Transportation

From the early days of the territory, transportation has been a major industry in Nebraska. The Oregon Trail and Pony Express went through the state. Union Pacific Railroad alone provided 7,864 jobs in Nebraska in 2013, the company reported. About 162,000 rail cars full of corn, meat, and other grains originate in Nebraska and are shipped throughout the country. Rail and truck transportation are closely linked to the health of the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

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Despite a long agricultural heritage, Nebraska's modern economy is well diversified beyond corn and beef. Some of the major industries in Nebraska include military, financial services, transportation, and, of course, agriculture.
industries, nebraska, economy
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2015-04-13
Monday, 13 Apr 2015 07:04 PM
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