What Are The Biggest Industries In Nebraska?

Nebraska state capital Lincoln.
Nebraska state capital Lincoln.

Nebraska is the only triply landlocked US state. Its capital city is Lincoln, while its largest city is Omaha. Nebraska is dominated by two major land regions, The Great Plains and The Dissected Till Plains. The Dissected Till Plains comprise of gently rolling hills. This region is where the state’s largest cities of Omaha and Lincoln relocated. The Great Plains are situated in the western region of the State and are characterized by open grassland, good for cattle grazing.

Despite a long agricultural heritage, the economy of Nebraska today is diversified beyond agriculture. Nebraska’s economy is a set of human and social activities and institutions related to production, distribution, consumption and exchange of goods and services. Diverse and growing industries have propelled job gains in the country helping the state maintain the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country in 2014.

Here are some of the biggest industries in Nebraska.

Insurance And Financial Services

In the last 5 years, Nebraska’s insurance industry has more than doubled in size. The insurance industry of Nebraska has had a substantial effect on the economy of Nebraska, extending far beyond its responsibility to settle claims and collect premiums. Besides serving people in their greatest time of need, Nebraska’s insurance industry owns municipal bonds, employs licenced professionals and pays taxes. Nebraska is home to two major insurance firms, Berkshire Hathaway and Mutual of Omaha. 

In 2016, Nebraska’s insurance industry GDP contribution was $8.3 billion which was 8% of the total GDP. According to the US Department of Commerce data, the state’s insurance industry employed up to 34, 856 workers in 2017. The same year, premium paid taxes by Insurance companies in Nebraska totalled to $54.4 million.

Nebraska is home to First Data, the financial transaction processing firm that was at one time part of the American Express. First Data was started in the state in the 1960s and still maintains a large processing centre in Omaha. the company employees over 5,000 employees.


The manufacturing industry is Nebraska’s fastest-growing industry. The industry is one of the state’s largest economic drivers. Nebraska’s manufacturing industry is especially an economic engine in rural areas. This industry is governed by the Nebraska Manufacturing Advisory Council (NeMAC). The manufacturing industry of Nebraska is diverse, ranging from agricultural manufacturing to advanced manufacturing.

Agricultural manufacturing majorly entails food processing. Meat processing (beef and pork) is a large industry in Nebraska. The state is home to one of the world’s largest meat packaging centres, with packaging mainly based in the Cities of Dakota and Lexington. Other foods and beverages are also manufactured. Processed foods are shipped to major markets in Asia.

 Advanced manufacturing involves the production of electrical equipment and appliances, chemical products (pharmaceuticals, pesticides, fertilizers), machinery, fabricated metal products, and mineral products. Nebraska is home to Lincolns Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing, the only Kawasaki plant in the world to produce the Mule product lines, all-terrain vehicle (ATV), and the Jet Ski. This plant employs more than 1,200 people. Canada is one of its major market for machinery.

Manufactures account for 12% of the states total output. Nebraska is home to more than 1,600 manufacturing facilities. The manufacturing industry of Nebraska employs about 100,000 workers which are about 10% of the states total workforce. Nebraska’s manufacturing industry contributes to $13 billion annually in Nebraska’s total economic output.


Nebraska has had an economy based on agriculture since the mid-19th century. Agriculture in Nebraska during this time involved raising of livestock and growing of crops, majorly corn and wheat. During the 1930s Nebraska’s economy suffered from the effects of the Great Depression and extended drought. The 2nd half of the 20th century was marked with the widespread use of irrigation wells which is now responsible for the increased area of farmland under irrigation.

Today, agriculture is still a large sector of Nebraska’s economy despite the expansion of the services and manufacturing industries in recent decades. Agriculture contributes significantly to GDP growth in the state. The chief farm products are cattle, corn, wheat, soybeans and hogs.

Nebraska ranks 2nd  in the US in the production of cattle products. Livestock products account for two-thirds of Nebraska’s farm income. Beef cattle are the most important source of livestock products followed by hogs. The Spade Ranch located in the Sandhills is one of Nebraska’s first and chief beef cattle firms. Sheep, lambs, broilers, farm chicken and turkeys are also produced.

Corn is the most important crop in Nebraska. Besides, a large number of varieties of grasses grow in the state than in any other state which makes a valuable livestock forage. Other crops grown in the State include sorghum, beans, potatoes and sugar beets.


Transportation has been a major industry in Nebraska since its early days. The Oregon Trail and Pony Express went through the state. On July 1, 1862, the Union Pacific Railroad was incorporated following the Pacific Railway Act of 1862. Its headquarters are in Omaha. Bailey Yard, the world’s largest railroad classification yard is located in North Platte, Nebraska. A route of the First Transcontinental Railroad passes through the state. Other railroads in Nebraska include Iowa Interstate Railroad, Canadian National Railway and BNSF Railway.

Several interstate highways pass through the state, among them Interstate 76, 80, 129, 180, 480, and 680. Many U.S road routes also pass through the state.

Service Industry

Private healthcare, data processing companies, law firms and repair shops are the leading income producers in the service industry of Nebraska. These are followed by the wholesale and retail trade sectors, real estate, finance and insurance. Government services among them Indian reservations, military bases, public hospitals and schools and electrical utilities also form an important part of the income generated in the service industry. In Nebraska, publicly owned utilities provide 100% of the electrical power.

The health and medical service industry of Nebraska is the largest industry cluster in terms of employment. The University of Nebraska Medical Centre is a major research facility, recognized regionally and internationally.


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