Census: Nebraska Not Hit as Hard by Recession

By: Ann McIntire Email
By: Ann McIntire Email

New Census report numbers are in and show Americans are feeling the effects of the recession. Everything from housing, to unemployment, and even the way we get to work in the morning has been impacted, but how are the folks here in the heartland comparing?

Americans are cutting back in several areas. According to the report, fewer people own a home nationwide. Home ownership dropped to 66 percent which is the lowest in six years.

Also, more Americans are delaying marriage, with 31 percent of those over 15 never being married. That's the highest in a decade.

Still, compared to the rest of the country, Nebraskans are managing to keep their heads above water.

Nebraska still remains the top-ranked state for the percentage of people who hold a job. We're right about 5 percent unemployment compared to the nation's rate of close to 10 percent.

According to the report, 79 percent of 16 to 64 year olds have a job, and that's actually an improvement. It's up from 76.9 percent in 2007.

After moving to their current location in Aksarben Village last October, Wohlner's grocery store is settling into their new home.

"We felt it was a great opportunity coming down here," said General Manager, Mark Hathoot. "It was a big, large, 70 acre development, and they definitely needed a grocery store, there was a lot of businesses and residences moving in down here so we felt it was a very good move for us looking five and ten years down the road."

For the time being, it's been an interesting year for everyone, especially to expand a business.

"It's been a little bit of ups and downs, when we first moved-in in the winter time it was a little bit slow after the holidays, but ever since the spring we're starting to see we're inching upwards as more and more development is getting finished around here," said Hathoot.

It's not just Wohlner's location within the city, but where Omaha sits in the country.

"Through most of last year, the statistics that we're looking at, agricultural industry in Nebraska was very strong, agricultural commodity prices were strong, that helped keep us a float, you might say," said Professor John Deskins, with the Economics department at Creighton University. He says Omaha has been touched by the recession, but not as severely as other cities.

"In Nebraska we still stand at an unemployment rate that's right about one half of the national average, so we're in decline, we're suffering just like everybody else in the country and in most of the developed world, but we just haven't suffered nearly as extensively."

Much of that is because Nebraska doesn't have the highs, for instance in the housing market, therefore it doesn't see as low of lows.

Still, most customers at Wohlner's are aware of the times. "You definitely see people more conscious of what they're buying, and not quite as much just grabbing things off the shelf," said Hathoot. "I noticed people looking at prices a little bit more and taking their time a little bit more."

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