Ethanol industry wages top other industries in Nebraska

By Holly Jessen | July 31, 2011

Fifty-eight percent. That’s how much wages in Nebraska’s ethanol industry have increased over the last decade.

In 2000, average wages for the ethanol industry were just over $35,000, according to figures from the Nebraska Department of Labor. By 2010 that number had shot up to more than $56,000. That’s great news in a time when a recession has meant job reductions or frozen pay levels for some industries in the state. “Ethanol is vital to Nebraska’s economy,” said Nebraska Ethanol Board Administrator Todd Sneller. “The ethanol industry has created thousands of jobs while saving drivers money and burning more cleanly than gasoline.”

The numbers look even better when compared with other industries in the state. Average pay in all industries in Nebraska was about $37,000 in 2010.

Catherine Lang, the Nebraska Commissioner of Labor, is pleased with what ethanol has done for the state’s economy. “A vibrant rural economy is vital for the economic success of Nebraska, she said. “The ethanol industry provides high skill, high wage jobs for citizens across Nebraska. The Industry has been a strong partner along with our educational institutions, assuring that there are education and training programs to develop the skilled workforce to support and maintain this important industry in Nebraska.”

One study found that the state’s ethanol industry directly created 1.300 jobs and $3.5 billion in total economic output, Sneller pointed out. At the same time, it saved consumers $200 million at the pump. Finally, state and local governments collected more than $30 million in new tax revenues that didn’t exist before the ethanol industry.

There are 24 active ethanol plants in the state producing more than 2 billion gallons of ethanol yearly and using nearly one-third of the state’s corn crop. The first ethanol plant in Nebraska began operating in 1985. Today, Chief Ethanol Fuels Inc. in Hastings produces 62 MMgy. For more information about the ethanol industry in Nebraska, see