I remember admonishing my then teenage sons that “any job is worthwhile.” But the summer jobs we were discussing were highly unlikely to be permanent.
Things are a bit different for the adult working poor in the Great State of Indiana.
When our Governor or Mayor announces that–thanks to his mighty economic development prowess–Indiana or Indianapolis will be the site of X new jobs, everyone applauds. The media dutifully reports that jobs are being created (or stolen from elsewhere). If the story mentions the average salaries those jobs will generate, it’s toward the end.
There’s a reason for that.
Derek Thomas (full disclosure, a former student of mine) is an analyst for and blogger with the Indiana Institute for Working Families. His most recent blog demonstrates why we need to pay attention to the quality of jobs, and not simply the quantity.
We reported last year that as of 2011, Indiana had a higher percent of jobs in occupations with poverty-level wages than all neighboring states, the Midwestern average and the U.S. average, and that job growth was largely concentrated in low-wage work. New analysis shows that among neighboring states, Kentucky took the 2012 title back by a slim margin. However, Indiana still holds the dubious distinction of having the largest percent growth in occupations with poverty-level wages over the past three years – nearly 12% from 2010 – 2012. Additionally, the percent of jobs in occupations with median annual pay less than twice the poverty threshold is up from 71% to 72.1% – of neighboring states, only Kentucky has more (slightly).
Translation: even when we get new jobs, they aren’t good jobs. The people who fill them aren’t going to fill Hoosier tax coffers, they aren’t going to have disposable income to spend in Hoosier stores, and some percentage of them will have to rely upon social welfare services funded by our tax dollars. (But they’ll have the “right” to work.)
Well, we were recently ranked as the 8th dumbest state.
Honest to goodness, Indiana…