One of the news stories this week locally has been the release, by the U.S. Census Bureau, of the most recent population estimates for counties in Nebraska. These estimates are made every year between the decennial censuses, but they are always about a year behind. The estimates are as of July 1st of the preceding year--in this case, 2013. This particular release was for county populations; the city estimates will be out in the summer. When you read a little bit about their methodology, you'll understand why these estimates are normally quite accurate. Since the City of Lincoln comprises over 90% of the population of Lancaster County, the county estimate will mirror the city estimate very closely.
Lancaster County has grown by 4.1% between 2010 and 2013, adding an estimated total of 11,629 residents. You can bet that almost all of that growth is in the City of Lincoln, and a few thousand more have been added since the estimate date of July 1, 2013. Put another way, that's about the population of Beatrice, Nebraska. Beatrice has a police force of about 32 employees, a fire department with around 25 employees, four elementary schools, a high school, middle school, and five pizza places.
An annualized growth rate of 1.33% may not sound like a lot, but when it's on a base of over a quarter million, it adds up fast. The July 1, 2013 estimate had the Lancaster County population pegged at 297,036. Since it is nine months old now, it is likely that the county has already cracked 300,000 population, and Lincoln has topped 275,000.
The smallest county in Nebraska, by the way, is Arthur County, whose 458 residents are spread over 718 square miles. I am uncertain about the pizza situation in Arthur.