White populations decline, POC immigration increases Nebraska growth

LINCOLN -- University of Omaha researchers shared census analysis data in a Zoom conference Thursday. 

"This affects local communities, not just the state," said Wendy Underhill, the Director of Elections and Redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Diversity is growing in Nebraska, according to the team at UNO's Center for Public Affairs Research. They're analyzing the most recent census data to see how it's redefining the population landscape.

"I do expect this to change districts," Underhill said. 

Some of their biggest takeaways include the fact that statewide, about one in three towns grew over the past decade. While parts of the panhandle saw the biggest population loss, there has been a growing shift in ethnic breakdowns. The number of white residents declined by one percent across Nebraska, but the Asian population grew by 63 percent. 

Experts said it's a sign we're seeing more people of color move to the state - the most dramatic increase in at least 100 years.

COVID-19 did play a role in the census, however, researchers note it's still unclear how much data was affected.

These population shifts are going to impact a variety of services, like public power, judicial court locations, and even what schools kids attend.

State lawmakers will meet in less than a month for a special session to approve the new maps. They'll have just shy of three weeks to wrap up their work.