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Neb. economic forecasters predict modest growth

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- State forecasters expect modest economic and employment growth in Nebraska this year and a drop in farm incomes from their all-time highs, according to a report released Friday.

The Nebraska Business Forecast Council said in its latest long-range report that many sectors of the state economy were primed for solid progress in 2014, predicting accelerated job and income growth for Nebraska workers.

"Weather conditions and uncertainty about the national fiscal situation will limit economic growth in Nebraska during much of this year," said Eric Thompson, associate professor of economics and director of the Bureau for Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business Administration, which publishes the semiannual report.

"Nonetheless, we continue to anticipate moderate economic growth in Nebraska in 2013 overall, with the pace of growth accelerating late in the year and in 2014," Thompson said.

The council said it expected total job growth of 1.3 percent by the end of 2013, followed by a 1.5 percent increase in 2014.

The long-term outlook assumes a return to normal weather, the report said.

The forecasters said nonfarm income growth will speed up in 2014 along with job growth, but annual farm incomes will continue to drop in both years from the record $7.5 billion in 2011 and $5.2 billion in 2012.

Farm incomes were forecast to drop to $4.5 billion this year as crop prices continue to ebb and lingering moisture deficits affect crop yields. The council expected farm income of $4.2 billion in 2014.

Broad growth was seen for the state's services sector: 2 percent this year and 2.3 percent next year. The sector makes up 38 percent of the state's employment and includes health care, professional and scientific jobs, and arts, recreation and entertainment.

And the forecast report said Nebraska's housing comeback should continue in 2013, with predictions of solid growth in smaller commercial projects and related employment in 2013 and 2014.

The Business Forecast Council includes members from public and private universities; two public power districts; the Federal Reserve; the Nebraska departments of labor, economic development and revenue; and the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.


Online: http://cba.unl.edu/