Rural Poll: Nebraskans not optimistic about economy | Nebraska Today

According to the 2022 Nebraska Rural Poll, rural Nebrascans are not optimistic about the economy over the next year.

When asked in late spring and summer about their expectations for various economic factors over the next year, most rural Nebraska respondents believe the following will get worse: inflation (87%), gasoline or fuel prices (87%), food prices (86%) ) and interest rates (85%). In fact, more than four in ten respondents believe fuel prices, inflation, food prices and healthcare costs will get much worse over the next 12 months.

The annual survey asks rural Nebraska residents about their views and opinions on various local, state and national issues, as well as their quality of life and access to services. Questionnaires were mailed to 6,102 households in Nebraska in May and June, with 1,105 households from 86 of the state’s 93 counties responding. In its 27th year, the 2022 rural survey focused on the state’s economy and other issues, said Becky Vogt, the survey manager.

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According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, economic growth in Nebraska was stable in early 2022. However, with rising inflation, the impact on household budgets and businesses is a concern for Nebraska residents.

This concern is reflected in the less than optimistic outlook for the economy over the next 12 months. This matters because residents’ expectations can affect the economic success of their communities, said Steve Schulz, associate professor of supply chain management at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

“Optimism and hope improve perceptions of successful businesses in rural communities and the ability to attract new businesses in the future,” he said.

The questionnaire focused on Nebraska’s economy, from basic economic status to employment characteristics. Overall, 43% of rural Nebraska residents surveyed believe their personal financial situation will worsen or significantly worsen over the next year. More than six in 10 respondents with household incomes under $40,000 believe their personal financial situation will get worse, compared with just over a quarter of respondents with the highest household incomes ($100,000 or more).

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“This finding is likely due to the fact that low-income households spend a larger portion of their disposable income on basic goods like food, gas and housing, and these items are particularly vulnerable to the current bout of inflation,” said Brad Lubben, adviser professor of agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “While people are feeling confident about their job security given the challenges in the workforce and low unemployment, they are concerned that the cost of living is currently rising faster than their pay.”

However, few of the rural Nebraskans surveyed are making or considering a job change, with only three in 20 respondents actively looking for a better-paying job.

Even though many rural Nebraska residents do not seek a career change, they still value employment characteristics. Qualities that employees value include a focus on feeling valued; the nature of the work; Security; Autonomy; and opportunities to develop or improve.

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“Connecting to our work and appreciating it is part of our culture as Nebraskans,” said Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, associate professor and consulting specialist at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. “I think it’s in ours DNS. You see this historically through our low unemployment rates and our propensity for concurrent employment.”

The Rural Poll is the largest annual survey measuring rural Nebraska’s perceptions of politics and quality of life. The margin of error is plus or minus 3%. The Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is conducting the survey with funding from Rural Prosperity Nebraska and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Read the full report.


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