INDIANAPOLIS – Recently, we examined the median incomes of all households in the nation and Indiana, with a special focus on Black households. Now, let’s look more broadly within our state.

The Census Bureau provides median household income data for 2018. The racial or ethnic characteristic of a household is determined on the basis of the person responding for the household. Therefore, if a Black person answers, the household is considered Black despite the partner of that person being Asian. It’s imperfect but has both statistical and practical validity.

The median, you will recall, is where half of all households are above and half below the reported number. The 2018 median income for all households in the state was $55,746, ranging from $94,644 (Hamilton County) to a low of $42,217 (Blackford).

Black households (9.3% of all Indiana households) reported a median income statewide of $32,290, going from $83,588 (Putnam) to a low of $20,271 (Miami). Counties with small minority populations may give rise to results with large margins of error.

Asian households (1.9% of Indiana households) recorded a statewide median of $61,950, led by $207,965 (Warrick) and trailed by $15,036 (Monroe). We can speculate on reasons for these extremes; Warrick County may serve as the suburban home for Evansville and Gibson County workers, a concentration of professionals and managers. Monroe County’s status may reflect the Asian portion of the IU student body.

Neither the term Hispanic nor Latino refers to a race or an ethnicity, given the wide varieties of origin, languages, and cultures of these residents. It is more of a geographic identifier, similar to Eastern or Western European.

The median income of Hispanic/Latino households (5.0% of the Indiana’s total) was $38,292, with a high of $94,911 (Jennings) and a low of $ 24,222 (Knox).
For the white not Hispanic/Latino households (82.3% of the total) the median was $59,587, with Hamilton ($95,981) and Blackford ($42,650) in first and last positions.

Before anyone goes too far in giving sociological explanations for these results, remember factors other than race and ethnicity also determine income. Households with multiple earners are likely to register more income than those with only a single labor force participant. If Mom, Dad, and a grown child are all working full-time at $15 per hour, the annual household total would be $90,000 ($15 x 3 x 2000 hrs.).

The types of businesses offering employment and the willingness/ability to commute affect the income received. Large, unionized employers will draw workers from other places, spreading higher wages over multiple counties. By contrast, counties with employers serving only the local population typically show lower income figures.
       
As a salesman says on the train coming into River City at the opening of “The Music Man,” “You gotta know the territory.” 

Mr. Marcus is an economist. Reach him at mortonmarcus@yahoo.com. Follow his views and those of John Guy on “Who gets what?” wherever podcasts are available or at mortonjohn.libsyn.com.