When combined, the finance, insurance and real estate sectors comprise one of the largest pieces of Nebraska’s economy.
As of 2016, finance, insurance and real estate accounted for roughly $22.5 billion of GDP for Nebraska, or about 19 percent of Nebraska’s total economic output.
Part of the reason for the strength of the sector is historical. Household names such as Mutual of Omaha and First National of Nebraska have deep roots in the state, since 1909 and 1857, respectively. Part of it is what Nebraska has to offer. Global players such as UBS and Ford Motor Credit Co. have significant operations in the state.
The finance sector includes heavyweights such as TD Ameritrade and Berkshire Hathaway, both headquartered in Omaha; major regional banks Pinnacle Bank and First National; and technology company First Data, once part of American Express, which was founded in Nebraska in 1971 and maintains a large processing center in Omaha.
Then there are numerous community banks and financial institutions throughout the state that give the economy its backbone, and help businesses and consumers with mortgage and commercial loans, commercial real estate, small-business resources and planning and investment services. They are also generous supporters of charities and local causes.
The insurance industry is also an economic driver for the Cornhusker State. A recent study by professors at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Creighton University that was commissioned by the Nebraska Insurance Federation (NIF) found that the insurance industry added $10.3 billion annually to the state’s economy, providing higher-than-average wages and bringing more than its share of dollars into the state.
Companies such as Mutual of Omaha, WoodmenLife, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, Ameritas, Physicians Mutual and Assurity long have made their home in Nebraska, some since the 1800s. Out-of-state firms such as Aflac and Pacific Life also have established significant operations in insurance industry clusters in Nebraska.
According to the NIF study, the insurance industry’s per-capita economic impact in Nebraska is the third highest in the United States. The success of the insurance sector is an important factor in keeping skilled young workers in Nebraska and attracting a talented workforce from outside – a “brain gain,” according to the NIF study.
Why Nebraska? The state’s solid business climate and reasonable regulatory environment are the keys to its success. Also important is Nebraska’s real estate market, which provides relatively low housing and property costs for employees and businesses. The Nebraska Advantage incentive program – along with the state’s top-notch infrastructure, public power and advanced telecommunications network – all are reasons for businesses to locate in the state.
Finance, insurance and real estate also are major sources of employment in the state. Recent data show that the finance and insurance sectors employed 53,800 workers, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, while real estate employed 9,170.