With major flooding earlier this year, much of rural Nebraska has faced a number of different challenges in 2019, but rural residents are still optimistic.

In the 2019 Rural Poll done by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Agricultural Economics to measure quality of life of rural Nebraskans, 56% of respondents reported that they believe they are better off now than they were five years ago. According to Nebraska Today, this is a 4% increase from the results of the same poll in 2018.

However, many cities in Nebraska’s panhandle showed a decrease in optimism when comparing last year to this year. In the same poll, 37% of residents stated that they believed their community will be worse off in the next five years.

Panhandle researchers said they speculate that the residents’ pessimism is due to the recent closing of Cabela’s in Sidney. According to Nebraska Today, researchers said the panhandle has seen a trend in dropping optimism and economics for about three years.

With the overall spread of optimism in much of rural Nebraska, the “Nebraska Strong” campaign is highlighted as a factor in the change of attitude. Nebraska Today said the campaign spread the word about the stories and struggles of farmers and workers in areas affected by flood damage. The poll saw a rise in friendliness among rural residents with residents not wanting to leave the community.

The poll’s responses came from 1,776 out of 6,260 households across the rural counties of Nebraska.