Nearly two-thirds of Nebraska's counties lost population in 2012 as the longstanding trend of the state's rural population shrinking while urban areas grow continued.
The 2012 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show population declines in 60 of Nebraska's 93 counties and 42 counties recorded more deaths that births.
David Drozd, a researcher at the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Center for Public Affairs Research, says the state's three biggest counties, Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy, are now home to more than 53 percent of Nebraska's 1,855,525 population.
The population of those three counties, which are home to Omaha and Lincoln, grew by 13,098 between 2011 and 2012. Nebraska also gained a fourth metro area. The Grand Island metropolitan area joins Lincoln, Omaha and Sioux City.
Nearly two-thirds of Iowa's counties lost population between 2011 and 2012 even as the state gained 10,089 overall.
Iowa had 3,074,186 residents last year, but the population of 65 of the state's 99 counties declined between 2011 and 2012. Many of the population declines were in rural areas where aging populations are dying off while younger residents move to urban areas in search of work. Fifty-five Iowa counties had more deaths than births in 2012.
The biggest population gains were reported in Polk, Johnson, Dallas, Scott and Linn counties, which are home to Des Moines, Iowa City, Davenport and Cedar Rapids.