Forecast Shows Growth Ahead for Nebraska Economy and "New Normal" for Farm Incomes


State economic forecasters expect steady economic and job growth across most of the state industries through 2015, despite descending farm incomes.

The Nebraska Business Forecast Council said in its long-range report issued Friday that it foresees total job growth of 1.3 percent by the end of 2013, rising to 1.5 percent in 2014 and 1.6 percent in 2015. These predictions hold steady from the council's February report.

However not all the news is good as farm incomes are forecast to hit $5.2 billion in 2013 -- a 3.7 percent decline from 2012 -- then drop to $5 billion in 2014 and remain at $5 billion in 2015.

Corn prices could be falling substantially by harvest time, which experts say could lead to a $1.5 billion to $2 billion reduction in net earnings for Nebraska corn producers. Future farm incomes are also expected to be affected in the coming years by a new farm bill that removes direct farm subsidy payments.

On the flip side, Nebraska could see a return to a more balanced agriculture sector with lower corn prices. Officials say reduced crop revenues would mean reduced input costs for the livestock sector as well as benefiting ethanol producers.

"A rebalanced Nebraska agriculture sector would maintain farm income near $5 billion per year," shared Eric Thompson, associate professor of economics and director of the Bureau for Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business Administration. "This amount is effectively the 'new normal' for Nebraska agriculture."

The full report with information on other specific sectors can be found at