There are Jobs and Then There are Jobs

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…


  1. Those reports also do not report that the wages paid do not afford the wage earner enough to attend the ever expanding sports venues in Indianapolis which are tax supported and maintained. Or that they must still decide between food, medication or gas in their vehicle (if they have one) to get to their underpaid jobs if fortunate enough to have a job anywhere. By Indiana refusing to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid and cutting food stamps, these low wage earners must stretch their few dollars even further – if possible in this economy. They are then berated and insulted when they need some public assistance – which is shrinking and spread even thinner due to the increase in applicants because of the relatively few low wage jobs available.

    I have friends, a mother and daughter both on Social Security Disability, who are in this predicament. The mother lost her Medicaid assistance for her Medicare, the daughter lost her food stamps. They already share an apartment in a senior/disabled complex but may not be able to afford the rent much longer. Where to they go? The mother has a Master’s Degree in Library Science but no jobs in that field; no jobs anywhere for someone her age who is also disabled or for her disabled daughter. They are both former hard-working, self-supporting Indiana residents; due to circumstance, their lives are on a non-stop downhill slide. Brag on, Ballard and Pence, your version of transparency regarding the job situation in Indianapolis and Indiana is fogged in with low visability to the general public.

  2. Don’t forget the tax abatement and state-funded training grants paid with taxes to attract these jobs. I have been asking why there is no accountability for corporations that promise to create jobs in Indiana but never do. Why shouldn’t they have to return our tax dollars if they don’t create the jobs they promised?

  3. Coincidence !
    I was talking about this subject at a party last night
    and quoted information aired 3 weeks ago on the
    Gerry Dick section of local PBS. The report stated
    that a company in Texas was relocating its entire
    operation to northern Indiana. Which would result
    in 500 new jobs in Indiana. Well, obviously, 500 in
    Texas are loosing jobs. Thus, when applying simple
    mathematical rules, we are not creating 500 new jobs
    we are “Migrating” 500 existing jobs to a new location.
    Probably due to a more lenient taxation structure.

  4. It seems that every announcement about some company “creating” jobs in Indiana is accompanied by a statement at the tail end of the article about how many millions of dollars in abatements, training, infrastructure the state or local government has committed to the company. As some have pointed out we have the bidding wars among the states and cities for relocation.

    Back when I first took an economics class in 1970’s, the traditional response to a recession was deficit spending, lower interest rates, cutting taxes, or in some cases government jobs for the unemployed. Deficit spending was supposed to act as stimulus to the rest of the economy, a kick start if you will. Lower interest rates would encourage people and companies to borrow. You would buy products and stimulate the manufacturing sector. Lower taxes might encourage more spending. Government jobs might be created to absorb the unemployed. My Uncle for instance worked for the CCC during FDR era.

    We have had Federal Deficit Spending for years, and interest rates are very low. Tax cuts have been the Soup of Day for politicians all across the nation.

    IMHO a key component is missing. All these economic manipulations back in the 70’s rested upon the presumption our manufacturing sector would be stimulated. Workers in factories were quite simply paid higher wages than the service industry. Today you would be hard pressed to find any consumer goods made in the USA.

    The Global Multi-National Corporations have no allegiance to any one country. Large Companies and wealthy individuals can use loop holes in our tax laws to park profits off shore and avoid taxes.

    Locally we have our Republicrat Party all on board with a money laundering scheme to tax people to pay for stadiums for the Mega-Billionaire Owners of Sports Teams.

  5. Red George: Gerry Dick is nothing more than a PR man for the Chamber of Commerce. PBS should stop broadcasting his program and give it to Fox

  6. @daleb:

    Yes, I agree with you, I suppose the acronym MEPOC could be applied.
    (Merely Existing Piece of Crap)

  7. Well, in Texas, they still believe that being gay
    is a curable condition. Check out the article on
    Al Jazeera America.

  8. I’ll believe the 8th dumbest ranking. Who did the rating? (I think our legislators will believe it’s a good thing because it’s a low number. They will probably ask, “Why aren’t we first?”)

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