April  2004      Vol. 13, No. 4  REAP HOME PAGE  A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs    
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Analysis Shows Micro Crucial to Nebraska
Microenterprise contributes nearly 1 of every 6 private non-farm jobs in the state.

A Center for Rural Affairs analysis of federal employment and business data compiled by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) shows microenterprise employment is important for all of Nebraska, but it is especially important to the most rural parts of the state.

Using a methodology developed by Professors James C. McConnon and Thomas Allen of the University of Maine, AEO compiled “Micro-enterprise Employment Statistics” for each state using 2001 U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Commerce data (the most recent data available) to determine what percentage of private non-farm employment in a state or county is from microenterprises.

Using AEO’s data, we determined what types of counties in Nebraska had the greatest dependence on microenterprise employment. We used the county typology employed in other Center research reports (the number in parentheses is the number of Nebraska counties in each type):

Rural Farm Counties (50): 20 percent or more of county income from agriculture and no town as large as 2,500 population.

Urban Farm Counties (10): 20 percent or more of county income from agriculture and a town of 2,500 to 19,999.

Non-farm Counties (25): Less than 20 percent of county income from agriculture.

Metropolitan (8): Part of a Census Bureau designated Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Microenterprise employment is a crucial part of the economy throughout Nebraska, comprising nearly 1 of every 6 private non-farm jobs in the state. Rural counties in Nebraska have dramatically higher rates of microenterprise employment than do the more urban and metropolitan areas of the state. As the numbers below show, all rural classes of counties have microenterprise employment rates more than double our metropolitan counties.

County Type Microenterprise Employment (percent)
Nebraska (total statewide) 15.9
Rural Farm 29.6
Urban Farm 26.9
Ag-Based (rural and urban farm) 28.6
Non-farm 17.1
Metropolitan 13.1

Examination of individual county rates of microenterprise employment demonstrates the same dichotomy – the 10 counties with the highest percentage of microenterprise employment are rural counties primarily in north-central and western areas of the state. The 10 counties with the lowest percentage of microenterprise employment are primarily the largest metropolitan counties in the state and/or home to the largest cities in the state, and generally follow the I-80 corridor through the state.

These data show that microenterprise development must be a significant part of economic development policy of the state, particularly the state’s rural development policy. Programs such as the Microenteprise Partnership Development Act (that funds REAP and other micro programs in the state) must continue to be fully funded.

The Center will soon release an “Issue Brief” on this topic. Look for it at the Center’s website, www.cfra.org .

Contact: Jon Bailey, jonb@cfra.org for more information.
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