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Study: Nebraska lags behind in high-tech jobs
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Study: Nebraska lags behind in high-tech jobs

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Progress Nelnet at Hudl, 2.13

Nelnet employees work in the Hudl building in the West Haymarket last year. A report from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said the state lags the nation in its percentage of jobs in high-tech fields.

Despite an emphasis on creating high-tech jobs over the past few years, Nebraska is still lagging behind other states when it comes to the number of those jobs.

That's according to a new study from the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Only 4.4% of the state's jobs in 2018 were in the professional, scientific and technical services sector, according to the study, compared with 6.23% nationwide. Study author Eric Thompson said that's one of the widest gaps between state and local numbers of any job category.

That gap has widened over the past decade. From 2009-18, professional, scientific and technical services sector jobs grew about 8.6% in Nebraska, but they grew 22.9% in the U.S. as a whole.

“Nebraska’s slower growth is partly the result of Nebraska’s urban structure, characterized by small and mid-size metropolitan areas and a large non-metropolitan population,” said Thompson, who is director of the Bureau of Business Research.

But even Omaha and Lincoln lag peer cities when it comes to the percentage of those jobs, the study says. Omaha's 5.29% of professional, scientific and technical services sector jobs, is below its peer group average of 6.3%, while Lincoln's 4.74% lags its peer group average of 5.13%.

Thompson said it's important for the state to do whatever it can to support growth in this employment sector, because the jobs have high wages, with an average weekly salary of $1,800 nationwide in 2018. The average salary in Nebraska was considerably lower at $1,330 a week, but that's still higher than the average salary in almost every other job category.

“Faster growth in the industry would raise household income, per-capita tax revenue and support the retention of college graduates,” he said.

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

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business 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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