One common refrain that appears to be true is that Nebraska has high labor productivity compared to the rest of the United States. Nebraska (the green line below) is more than 15% more productive than the Midwest, Iowa, and most other regions around the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only the west has seen regional growth higher than the State of Nebraska.
In fact, Nebraska’s labor market has been more productive than all but three states that drive the Western productivity – California, Colorado, and Washington. These states have also seen rapid wage expansion over the time measured (2007-2021). This has happened in Nebraska also – and nearly as significantly as has happened in these other states.
On this chart, Nebraska’s wages look (and are) significantly lower than California, Colorado, and Washington’s. However, this is at least in part due to the difference in cost of living. The cost of living in these western states is significantly higher than in Nebraska (according to insure.com). When comparing wages on a cost of living adjusted basis – Nebraska is competitive. This is across all wages, and it does not necessarily mean that Nebraska technology jobs’ wages can be projected to be competitive with western jobs of the same type. This is particularly true when comparing the extremes, as opposed to the averages.
|State||2021 in Cost of Living Adj. Wages|
Nebraska has shown a surprising ability to increase productivity compared to similarly situated states in the Midwest – making it competitive with the highest performing states in the country. However, despite what many would believe, Nebraska has also seen strong wage growth and competitive wages as compared to these states when cost of living is also included.
While this is positive for Nebraska, it does represent a need to convey complex statistical analysis to explain why Nebraska is competitive. This can often be challenging – particularly for a recruiter talking to an individual recruitee. Thus, it is important that we do a better job as a state of providing information, like this blog, that can be utilized by our state’s recruiters to explain for them why working in Nebraska is actually a great career move.
 Cost of living by state 2022 [compare rates using COLI tool] | Insure.com