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Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2018 population estimates; prepared by David Drozd, UNO. Illustration by Russ Pankonin.

Chase County bucks trend of declining rural population

    Chase County continues to buck the trend of declining population in rural counties in western Nebraska.
    According to U.S. Census Bureau, Chase County  stands with only five other Nebraska counties west of Kearney that showed positive growth in population over the last year.
    The Census Bureau released 2018 county population estimates for the U.S. last week.
    In 2018, Chase County showed a growth of 33 residents from the 2017 Census Bureau estimate. That represents 0.8% growth over the past year.
    That brings Chase County’s total population to 3,977 people, which ranks 61st in Nebraska.
    That’s 11 more than the number of people counted in 2010. That represents a 0.3% growth from 2010 to 2018.
    Only 27 of Nebraska’s counties have shown positive growth during that same time frame.
    Census researcher David Drozd with the University of Nebraska at Omaha said Chase County’s growth represents a “more positive story.”
    He said Chase County is one of just 11 counties that showed population decline in the decade of the 2000s only to reverse that in the decade of the 2010s.
    “This is a function of improved migration,” he said. Chase County is among eight other counties that switched from net outmigration to net inmigration.
Neighboring counties
    Both Perkins and Hayes Counties showed positive growth from 2017 to 2018. Perkins County grew by 35 people while Hayes County added 23 people.
    Percentage-wise, Hayes County showed the highest growth of any Nebraska county at 2.6%. Perkins County’s growth represented an increase of 1.2 percent during the past year.
    Dundy County lost 23 people over the last year while Hitchcock County fell by nine. Keith County showed a decline of 57  people.
    Since the 2010 census, Dundy  County has shown a loss of 95 people, which represents the largest percentage decrease in the state at  11.9%.
    Hayes County is down -4.6%, Keith County -4.1% and Hitchcock County -3.5%.
    Drozd said population in Cheyenne County, which includes Sidney, has been hit hard since the sale of Cabela’s.
    In 2018, the county lost 387 people and 91 the year before. Since July 1, 2015, the county has lost 826 people, taking the population from 10,136 to 9,310 currently.
    Since the 2010 census, the population has decreased -6.9%. This year’s total of 9,310 represents the county’s lowest population in 100 years.

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