At a time when the current unemployment average is 9.8 percent, Nebraska’s average is only 4.9 percent, and ethanol production is one of the leading reasons.
Nebraska, the Cornhusker State, is the third largest corn-producing state in the U.S. According to the Nebraska Corn Board, ethanol, along with other industrial uses, consumes over 43 percent of the state’s corn production. The rise in oil prices has improved the bottom line for ethanol producers in an otherwise difficult time.
Since agricultural production has remained relatively unchanged, farming states have not seen the dramatic downturn that has affected jobs across the country. Only two other states have an unemployment average below five percent- North Dakota and South Dakota, both in the top 10 states with ethanol production capacity.
Currently, there are 23 ethanol production plants in Nebraska, with a combined production capacity of over 1.6 billion gallons of ethanol each year. According to the Nebraska Ethanol Board, these ethanol plants represent more than $1.4 billion in capital investment in the state and provide direct employment for approximately 1000 Nebraskans.
The impact from ethanol is not just seen in direct employment at the production facilities though. Nebraska’s economy benefits from the truck drivers, plant maintenance workers, and the associated trade personnel who are required to keep the farms, transportation networks and plants in business.
Some lawmakers have argued against the ethanol industry in the past, but none can deny the benefits that keep people of the state of Nebraska employed.