INDIANAPOLIS  – Last week we promised the data to back up the disquieting claim that “Indiana is not, and has not been, outperforming the nation in job or wage growth.”

According to the Census of Employment and Wages, Indiana added 323,000 private sector jobs between 2010 and 2017, years of recovery from the Great Recession and a 14.0% increase compared to a 15.2% growth nationally. “That’s nothing,” you might say. “Only about 28,000 jobs spread over 92 counties and seven years.”

True, but consider this: The seven states with 40% of the jobs in 2010 enjoyed 52% of the job growth. California alone increased its job count by 2.5 million, more than the entire number of Hoosier jobs in 2010 (2.3 million).

Within Indiana, 78 counties gained employment, led by Marion County with an increase of 50,400, ranking first in numeric growth, but only 36th in percent increase. Vigo County had the distinction of losing the most jobs (829) while Martin County lost 15.1% of its jobs.

Look then at average annual wages. Nationally, the nominal increase was 19.1%; Indiana ranked 28th at 18.4%. During this period the Consumer Price Index rose by 12.4% bringing our real wage increase, adjusted for inflation, down to approximately six percent over seven years. 

Relative to the national average annual wage, Indiana had a slight decrease, but staying close to 16% below the national average. We were one of the 20 states below the national average in 2010 that fell further behind by 2017. Sixteen other states below the national average managed to rise toward that number. Five states, which in 2010 were above the national average wage, managed to rise even further.

Among Indiana’s 92 counties, 85 saw average annual wages advance faster than inflation. Gains twice as fast as inflation were seen in seven counties, ranging from 24.9% in Sullivan County to 44.3% in LaGrange County. Losing out to inflation were seven counties, including Grant and Vermillion.

In 2010, only four Indiana counties exceeded the national average of $46,455 (Posey, Pike, Vermillion and Marion). By 2017, only three (Posey, Pike and Marion) exceeded the national average of $55,338.

Of the 12 counties above the 2010 state average, only three (Hamilton, Bartholomew and Gibson) saw their average wages gain relative to the state. Seven declined relative to the state, but remained above the state average of $46,424. However, Warrick and Ripley slipped from their elite status to positions below the state average.

Of the 80 counties below the 2010 Indiana average, 47 closed the gap with the state average, with Elkhart and DeKalb breaking through to surpass the state average. That left 33 counties sinking further below the state average, with Dearborn and Grant taking the hardest hits.

An opinion piece in The New York Times (12/16/2018) offers a grim prognosis for states like Indiana and its many rural counties. We’ll take that up in a forthcoming column. 

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