Data analysis by the University of Nebraska at Omaha is helping the state’s lawmakers understand Nebraska’s economic circumstances and challenges.
In a study for the Legislature’s Planning Committee, UNO researchers broke down economic and demographic data for each of the Legislature’s 49 districts. The contrast sometimes was dramatic.
Consider the percentage of residents aged 65 and older. In many rural districts, that figure was quite high: 17 percent to 21 percent. In many Omaha and Lincoln districts, it was much lower: in the 7 percent-to-10 percent range. The figure for Sen. Scott Price’s District 3 in Sarpy County was just 5.1 percent.
Another contrast involves the percentage of children under age 18 in poverty. The biggest difference was among urban districts.
Some urban districts in Omaha or Lincoln have a high incidence of poverty. In District 11, represented by Sen. Brenda Council, the figure was about 58.1 percent. Then came two Lincoln districts, Sen. Danielle Conrad’s at 39.7 percent and Sen. Bill Avery’s at 32.5 percent, followed by another district in Omaha, Sen. Gwen Howard’s, at 30 percent.
At the low end were urban districts in Douglas and Sarpy Counties, with children-in-poverty figures ranging from 4 percent down to 2.4 percent.
Legislators have two roles: They are state senators who need statewide vision. They also need to represent their individual districts, which, as the UNO analysis shows, reflect tremendous diversity.