Nebraska Population Getting Older, More Diverse

By: Katie Stukey Email
By: Katie Stukey Email
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A more diverse, urban, and older population - those are trends Nebraska can anticipate in the years ahead according to the latest Kids Count in Nebraska report released Tuesday.

"It's really the most comprehensive source of data in Nebraska and how these kids are doing," research coordinator Chrissy Tonkinson tells WOWT. "We use the report everywhere - in the state legislature, talking to schools, talking to grant writers for different research proposals, and to get projects in the state funded."

One of the most biggest changes centers around aging Baby Boomers. By 2050, 21% of the state's population will be older than 65. Right now, fewer than 15% of Nebraska residents fit that category. The report says this is a concern for children as more funding will need to go to senior programs and "may come at the expense of services for the young."

The 2013 report also shows more Nebraska children are living in poverty, about one in five, and the majority of our kids are falling behind in both math and reading. Fewer than 40% of both fourth graders and eighth graders are proficient in math and reading. Children in low income families are three times more likely to fall below basic test scores.

"We need to possibly do different methods," Tonkinson says. "We need to make sure kids are in school and while they're in school that they're getting the best education they possibly can."

Two other significant changes are in family type and population growth by race. The number of both hispanic and black residents is expected to climb steadily through 2050, while the caucasian population will drop from more than 80% now to 62% by 2050. Also, 70% of Nebraska families include a married couple today. It's been 40 years since that was the case nationwide.

This data will be presented to state lawmakers in Lincoln on Tuesday.

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