By Jan Schultz, The Imperial Republican News Editor
New U.S. Census Bureau estimates on county populations in Nebraska put Chase County as the bright spot in southwest Nebraska.
Figures show, and they are just estimates according to the Census Bureau, that Chase County is the only one among eight counties in the southwest Nebraska area to have an increase in population since the 2010 census. Their estimates show an increase of 12 people in Chase County since the last census, but that’s significant when seeing the declines in all of the counties around us.
Looking at just the past year, Chase County grew by one person in the estimates. Hitchcock County, home to Palisade, Trenton, Stratton and Culbertson, was the only other area county that grew in numbers (up 28) in the latest one-year period, but since the last census, the estimates show an overall loss in Hitchcock County.
Even Red Willow, in which Mccook is located, and Lincoln County, which includes North Platte, both saw losses in the past year and since 2010.
While a growth of 12 people since 2010 may not seem significant, it really is when you consider that only 30 of Nebraska’s 93 counties showed population increases.
Looking at the latest one-year period only, Chase County was one of only 43 counties that showed population growth or stayed steady.
It will be interesting to see what the population trends are in a few months when the Census Bureau releases its city population estimates since the last census and in the past year.
While it’s hard to pinpoint why the growth has occurred in Chase County, it can’t hurt that economic development efforts are strong in the area. Many young families have returned to the area or are moving here.
While Nebraska, as a whole, has seen a population increase of 55,000 since 2010, most of that is occurring in much larger counties in eastern and central parts of the state. Chase County is an exception among most smaller counties, and we should feel good about that.