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Small Nebraska Counties with Greater Broadband Availability Have Higher Average Per Capita Income

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By Anne Byers, Nebraska Information Technology Commission

Small Nebraska counties with widespread broadband availability have a higher average per capita income than counties with less widespread broadband availability. The average per capita income of small Nebraska counties with the greatest broadband availability was $27,642.40, compared to an average per capita income of $25,542.14 for those counties with the least broadband availability. See the following chart and table.

Population Density Table-Nebraska and Neighboring States
Population Density Table-Nebraska and Neighboring States

How do these findings compare with national research on the relationship between broadband availability and per capita income? In their analysis of research on the impact of broadband, Roberto Gallardo, Brian Whitacre, and Alison Grant found that rural broadband availability and adoption are associated with greater economic growth, attraction of new firms, higher household incomes, and small business growth.


Nebraska counties (excluding the state’s 12 largest counties with populations over 25,000) were ranked by broadband availability and split into 4 groups or quartiles. The average per capita income was calculated for each quartile.

What Counties Do We Consider Rural in This Analysis?

The Census Bureau classifies a number of counties that most Nebraskans consider rural as metropolitan or micropolitan because of their proximity to larger communities. Some of these counties have fewer than 8,000 residents. Rather than using the Census Bureau classification, I looked at counties with populations of less than 25,000. This eliminated 12 counties including the state’s metropolitan areas and regional trade centers. These 12 counties are Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy, Hall, Buffalo, Dodge, Scotts Bluff, Lincoln, Madison, Platte, Adams, and Cass Counties.


Federal Communications Commission. 2018 Broadband Deployment Report.

County level data can be found at

Gallardo, R., Whitacre, B., Grant, A. (January 2018). Research and Policy Insights: Broadband’s Impact. Purdue University Center for Regional Development.

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