Study: Indiana personal income lags behind U.S.
The Associated pRess August 24, 2013 10:08PM
Updated: September 26, 2013 6:57AM
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s average personal income lags more than a decade behind the income levels enjoyed by the nation as a whole, a new Ball State University study has found.
Ball State researchers looked at Indiana’s 2010 wages and, after adjusting for inflation, assigned each county the year in which its standard of living equaled that year’s national average.
They found that Indiana’s average per capita income is equal to the 1996 national level.
Although Indiana has seen small annual increases in the average standard of living over the past 50 years, it continues to lose ground nationally. Indiana ranks 40th among states for 2010 per capita income, with the average resident earning $33,981. By comparison, the state ranked 30th in 1980.
The study’s findings are important because income levels are a measure of standard of living, said Michael Hicks, director of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research.
“A higher standard of living tends to promote better outcomes — more time you can spend with your kids, more health care you can consume,” he told The Indianapolis Star. “Standard of living raises all boats.”
The Ball State study also found sharp differences in personal income among Indiana counties. Marion County had an average personal income in 2010 equivalent to the national average in 1999.
But most Indiana counties were well behind that, with personal income levels 20 to 30 years or more behind the national average. The worst counties were LaGrange, which was at 1964 income levels, and Miami and Starke, which were at 1975’s level.
Three counties — Hancock, Porter and Warrick — earned at 2010 national levels, while two — Boone and Hamilton — earned more than the national average. Lake County was at 1995 national levels.
The study found that the disappearance of high-wage manufacturing jobs during several recessions since the early 1980s has contributed to Indiana’s lower wages.
In July, Indiana’s unemployment rate was 8.4 percent, the 16th consecutive month it was higher than the national rate.