Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The future of a county is directly related to the economic well-being of the primary, or base, industries that employ its residents. The economic base of the county can be composed of a variety of industries that produce a product from raw material, add value to a product, or provide a service which can be exported. Base industries may include manufacturing, agriculture, health care, tourism, retail, and service industries. The money received from exports by these industries is distributed throughout the county in the form of wages, benefits, taxes, and purchased services, forming the base upon which the local economy is built.

A detailed analysis of the county's base industries is beyond the scope of this plan. However, a general understanding of the heaith of the county's base industries can be obtained by evaluating trends in income, poverty, employment, unemployment, and other factors. This type of analysis can provide useful background information to guide future decisions concerning both public and private investment in community and economic development activities.


Income data are generally used to compare the relative economic well-being between areas. Census data indicate that the county's per capita income (total income divided by the county's total population) has risen dramatically. In 1990, Banner County's per capita income was $3,332 (30.89%) less than the state average. By 2020, Banner County's per capita income was $2,577 (8.07%) less than state-wide incomes. (See Table 5) These data Suggest that although not at the same pace as the state average, the rate of change in individual income levels in Banner County has risen significantly in the past 30 years.

The county's median family income grew over the last 30 years at approximately the same rate as farnily median incomes across the state. From 1990 to 2020 the county's median family income grew by $31,688 (142.89%) while the State's grew by $37,089 (14. 2.56%).


Changes in poverty rates over time provide insight into the health of the local economy. The number of families living in poverty increased by 10.7% over the past 30 years, with 29.4% of families in Banner County living below the poverty level. This is 6% higher than the state average (23.4%). The individual poverty rate in the county has dramatically decreased during this same time, from 21.8% to 3.4%.


The percentage of the Banner County population age 25 and above with at least a high school education has steadily increased over the past several decades, exceeding the state-wide average by 5.6% in 2020 at 97.2%. The percentage of individuals 25 years and older with a college degree has increased in the past 20 years, from 12% to 18.3%. The State-wide average for Bachelor Degree holders older than 25 is 21.4%. The number of individuals over 25 who have earned an Associate’s Degree is higher than the state average by 6.1%, which may suggest an increase in interest in Programs and access to community colleges such as Western Nebraska Community College, in Scottsbluff, and Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington, Wyoming. Partially The lower rate of county residents with college and advanced degrees may be the area's attributed educated to the lack of professional jobs in the area causing an out-migration of much of population.

Labor Force

The size and composition of the area's labor force is an important factor to consider relative to the county's ability to foster new economic growth. The labor force is defined as all persons aged 16 and above who are either employed, unemployed, or available for employment. Of the 502 individuals over the age of 16 (US CENSUS 2020), 174 are 65 years and older.

By removing those persons from the total labor force who are over 46 but not likely to be available for employment on a full-time basis (senior citizens and Students), it is estimated that approximately 54 people are available as a potential labor pool above and beyond those that are currently employed.

However, not all of those available for employment will accept full-time positions. It is estimated that an 80% participation rate for men and a 70% participation rate for women is nearing the practical upper limit. The 2020 participation rates in Banner County for men and women were 88.4% and 77.2%, respectively.

Should a new industry need a substantial increase in employment, an addition to the workforce would need to come from outside the county. This would put additional strain on housing resources.


The unemployment rate in the county according to the 2020 US Census was 1.5%. Changes in unemployment and unemployment rates can be analyzed to discover important trends in each area. The changes can be used to determine if new sources of employment exist, or sufficient new jobs have been created.

Unemployment figures, however, do not accurately illustrate total unemployment. Many persons who are not included in the labor force would be interested in employment if the opportunity existed. Also, rural areas have many people who are employed on a less than full-time basis. These people are considered to be employed when underemployed may best describe their situation. Underemployment may be a concern given the high rate of poverty among families in the county.


Evaluating how employment is distributed among, and has changed within, the primary sectors of the economy provides an indication of the overall performance of each sector. This information also indicates the level of economic diversification within the county.

Employment by Industry

Analyzing employment by industry reveals the level of diversification of an area and identifies which industries the area is most dependent upon. A healthy economy includes a range of industries to help sustain it during periods of difficulty within individual economic sectors.

The economy of Banner County has always been largely based on agriculture, which remains a staple industry and employs 36.3% of the workforce over 16 years of age. The number of county residents working in agriculture makes the economy of the entire county rely on the stability of the agricultural industry.

Public sector employment opportunities in the county exist through the school, the County Roads Department, Court House, County Sheriff Department, and the US Post Office, accounting for approximately 22.5% of full and part-time jobs.

Other industries that provide employment for county residents exist outside of the county and among a small but growing number of individuals who work from their homes.

The privately owned businesses in the county provide employment for 34 residents. According to 2020 Business Patterns Census Data, Banner County had 6 business establishments.

Commuting Patterns

While many Banner County residents commute to work in other counties (40.4%), a growing number of residents work from home (24.7%) (see Table 10). According to the 2020 Census, the mean travel time to work for county residents is 27.4 minutes.

Strength of Economy

The local economy relies on a few base industries. The strength of Banner County's economy can be obtained by monitoring trends in the various sectors mentioned above, as well as the potential for future economic development. Agricultural activity has the largest economic impact in the county.


Agriculture is important to the economic fabric of Banner County and the state of Nebraska as a whole. Banner County’s 193 farms cover 423,063 acres of land (Table 11), about 88.6% of the county’s total area. Crop and livestock production are the visible parts of the agricultural economy, but many related businesses contribute as well by producing, processing, and marketing farm and food products. These businesses generate income, employment, and economic activity throughout the region.

Agricultural activity, however, is subject to several external factors. A comparison of agricultural product sales and cattle and calf sales between 2012 and 2017 shows a decrease in sales, while the number of farms has increased.