Nebraska's banks reached a big new milestone in 2018.

For the first time ever, combined net income of all banks headquartered in the state topped the $1 billion mark.

According to data released Thursday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the state's 170 local banks collectively earned $1,008,000,000 last year.

That was a nearly 35 percent increase over 2017, and it was an 11 percent jump over the previous all-time high of $908 million in 2016.

For the fourth quarter, the state's banks earned $234 million, up more than 60 percent from the $148 million they earned in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Nationally, banks earned $59.1 billion in the fourth quarter, up 133 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2017. For the year, banks nationally earned $236.7 billion, up 44 percent from the previous year.

FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams said in a news release that banks benefited from lower tax rates as well as higher loan balances and increased net interest margins.

Those conditions appeared to help state banks as well. As a whole, Nebraska banks increased their loans by about $2.7 billion in 2018 and increased their net interest margin from 4.38 percent to 4.51 percent.

Richard Baier, president and CEO of the Nebraska Bankers Association, said that despite some challenges in agriculture, the state economy continues to be strong.

"Nebraska as an entire state is doing very, very well from an economic perspective," he said.

The nine banks headquartered in Lincoln saw their profits rise, but not by as much.

The banks collectively earned $182.6 million in 2018, up about 20 percent from the $152.3 million they earned in 2017.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.


Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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