Census shows unemployment down, income up in Northwest Indiana
By Teresa Auch Schultz firstname.lastname@example.org September 20, 2012 4:06PM
According to the American Community Survey for 2011, Lake and Porter counties saw some improvements over 2010, including: Lake County
Unemployment: 7.6 percent of workforce in 2010, 7.2 percent in 2011
Households: 183,558 in 2010, 181,198 in 2011
Median income: $55,186 in 2010, $61,432 in 2011
Unemployment: 6.4 percent in 2010, 5.9 percent in 2011
Households: 60,859 in 2010, 61,046 in 2011
Updated: October 22, 2012 6:23AM
New estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show Lake and Porter counties are following some slightly positive national trends, although housing and population growth remain a concern.
The bureau released the American Community Survey 2011 on Thursday, and the numbers show that both counties saw increases in both median and mean income. Lake County’s median income increased by about $3,400 to $48,533 compared to 2010, and Porter County’s rose about $6,300 to $61,432. Mean incomes in both counties also saw increases in the same time period, with Lake County’s rising about $4,000 to $61,317, and Porter County’s increasing by $6,500 to $72,334.
Unemployment was also down slightly, with just 7.2 percent of Lake County’s work force unemployed in 2011, compared to 7.6 in 2010. For Porter County, the rate was down to 5.9 percent compared to 6.4 percent.
Donald Coffin, emeritus associate professor of economics at Indiana University Northwest, said the numbers follow what’s been happening nationally and show good news in a slight improvement from the past few years of the economic recession.
“What we have here is a set of really unsurprising data reflecting a slow economic recovery,” he said.
However, Coffin said he had some caution about the income numbers, especially for Porter County, because it was such a large increase. Normally that would also be followed by even lower unemployment and other signs, he said.
“My own personal sense is to be skeptical of large jumps year to year,” he said.
He also pointed out the number of households in Lake County are actually down compared to 2010 and 2007, right before the economic recession hit, and that Porter County has seen its own slow down in growth, with just 187 new households compared to 2010.
The Lake County numbers likely show that its main urban area of Hammond, East Chicago and Gary is still suffering “fairly severe problems,” Coffin said.
The good news is that those problems aren’t quite as bad as they used to be several years ago, he said.