How Are Hoosiers Really Doing?

Morton Marcus can always be counted on to debunk official happy talk. In a recent column (link not available), he did it again.

Responding to what he characterized as “recent self-congratulatory claims from the State Office for Ooze,” he chose annual data for two decades (from 1994 to 2004 and 2004 to 2014), a time period that allows him to paint a more accurate picture of how Indiana has been doing compared to the nation.

Here are the numbers:

  • At the national level, the number of jobs grew by 17 percent from 1994 to 2004. In the next decade (2004 to 2014), U.S. jobs grew by 10 percent. For those two decades, Indiana’s job growth rate was 9 and 4 percent respectively.
  • Over that 20 year period, jobs in the U.S. grew by 29 percent while Indiana advanced only 13 percent. Indiana ranked 47th among the states.
  • Between 1994 to 2014, Indiana fell from having 2.3 percent to barely 2 percent of all American jobs. (As Morton points out, that may not seem like much, but that “little difference is the equivalent of 950,000 jobs over those 20 years. That failure to just keep pace with the nation, means our addition of 442,000 jobs between ’94 and ’14 was 53 percent short of mediocrity.”)
  • Also during this time frame, Indiana lost 26,000 construction jobs or 12 percent of the jobs in that industry while the national decline was only 7 percent. Indiana also saw greater percentage declines in computer and electronic products employment than did the nation, although the state experienced lesser percentage losses in primary metals and motor vehicle manufacturing.
  • Indiana had job losses in every category of retail shops while some types of retail grew at the national level. “Despite the Great Recession, finance and insurance jobs grew by 22 percent nationally, but only 9 percent in the Hoosier state. Food service and drinking places had job growth of 20 percent across America, but only 10 percent here.”

Next year, Indiana will elect a new Governor. Candidates for that position need to tell us how they plan to improve–rather than continue to spin– the state’s dismal economic performance.


  1. It is good to see statistics that support what I have thought was really going on. And to add insult to these conservative caused injuries, the minimum wage is beyond immoral!! I’m sharing this one with the grandchildren. This, kids, is what the future holds for you in Indiana.

  2. I was born and raised in Indiana, moved to Houston in 1997 for a better job and chances for my family.

    When I visit Indiana for business or to see family it amazes me how much the state has lost in manufacturing and business in general, yet I hear political leaders saying that the job market is great. Look around, it isn’t.

    Cities and towns that were once thriving look like ghost towns, drug addiction is rampant, curruption is at an all time high. Marion county has lost 500,000 residents since I left in ’97…

    It saddens me to see all the wasted taxpayer money…and for what?

  3. Thank you for some honesty. We can NEVER move forward or fix any issues if we don’t first know the truth of our situation.

  4. For what? For enrichment of the 1% Backward states contribute more to upward mobility of public funds than other ‘normal’ states. Look at Carmel.

  5. It’s obvious that Indiana’s elected officials at all levels still can’t make the distinction between expenses and investments. A healthy job market depends on many factors including sound infrastructure, public safety, potential for upward mobility, good public education, to name a few. What do the numbers tell us about those things?

  6. I-69 is getting ready to open, connecting Bloomington to Evansville. That will help a little.

    We need to keep I69 rolling through Indiana to help this state with its massive access deficit.

  7. Ah, yes. I-69 will be finished just in time for the 1970s traffic.

    Meanwhile, what are data when you have ideology? The Pence mob may still be able to scare Indiana resident into voting against their best interests.

  8. No, today’s traffic. It’s getting ready to open in 2015, not 1970.

    You’re 1970’s comment didn’t make a lot of sense.

  9. The Gov has not been fooling us by bragging about the jobs being brought to this state. And they are mostly low wage jobs.

    Those of us who live in the real world have watched our communities fall apart with the devastation of job loss. I remember many people in my area moving out of state in the 90’s and early 2000’s for good paying jobs because they had lost their jobs here that had provided a middle class standard of living. The only jobs that became available here were non-skilled at minimum wage. It was a matter of survival.

    I live on a highway in the north part of the state and the state’s idea of resurfacing it was putting down chip and seal. That is what they do on country side roads, not highways. It is the most awful job of chip and seal that I have ever had to drive on. Ruts, bumps, and a surface that is rougher than the side roads. The state threw away money at the company they hired to do this job. The road was in better condition before this complete waste of taxpayer money was spent.

  10. Three kinds of lies: there are lies, damned lies, and statistic. Comparing our state to the national average ignores the fact that Texas (according to Rick Perry) has created more jobs than the rest of the country combined. If he is being accurate, then all states are below the national average except Texas

  11. Independent folks who don’t have a dog in the I-69 fight say that I-69 should have been in service in 1970. Civilization has progressed since then in a number of ways, and I-69’s time has come and gone. Ever been on it from Evansville to the current exit? Low traffic. The whole project has been deteriorating since it was opened because of Daniel’s shortsightedness and unwillingness to meet standards. So, it was built just in time for 1970s traffic, and what we have is substandard.

  12. Make more money regardless of the cost to others is a cruel master. It guarantees nothing to anybody. It’s basic tenant is everyone for themselves and the devil take the hindmost.

    You and I can credit ourselves for our fortunate selection of birth year. A time when energy availability and technology exploded and supply and demand ramped up hand in hand in seemingly endless growth on the average, though variability eventually reached socially unstable levels

    That variability has a geographic reality as well. Indiana appears to be in the wrong place at this time.

    None of that has hardly anything to do with government. However the conservative culture which demonstrably failed in government is equally incompetent as a business model so our cultural entertainment based fling with it is a component in economics as well as governance.

    It turns out that endless growth is unsustainable. We’ve always known that but hoped that we weren’t so close to the edge. Hoping does not create reality though.

    So we’re going to live with slower economic growth for awhile. Not really a problem, certainly not a government problem, but a reality that we ought to accept. Government can however address the geographic and family variability problem and needs to. And if democracy gets around to ousting oligarchy it will.

    Our economic capability will be absorbed in rebuilding our energy infrastructure to live within reality’s means.

    We are faced with only one kind of real threat and that’s cultural. We have forgotten the essential value of democracy. Some are attracted to oligarchy and/or theocracy instead of freedom. They can be and are being manipulated by oligarchs and theocrats through entertainment channels.

    So, we need to restore democracy. Government needs to address family economic variability. Business needs to address creating an adequate energy system that’s sustainable.

    Indiana needs the same priorities.

  13. Stuart, you never make a lot of sense, but your 9:39 was particularly wacky.

    Yes, the road should have been built in the 1970’s. It wasn’t. Cars and driving always increase. Better late than never.

  14. My favorite magazine just went to the “dark side”. >> National Geographic informed employees Tuesday it would lay off about 9% of its staff, months after announcing it would partner with Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox as part of an expanded joint venture. In September, 21st Century Fox announced a for-profit venture in which it paid $725m for control of the National Geographic Society, to create National Geographic Partners, which includes National Geographic Channels. <<> Egypt’s pyramids were built by the biblical Joseph to store grain and were not, as archaeologists believe, tombs for pharaohs, Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson has said.<<< Carson is of course the Republican Candidate for President who is neck and neck with Donald Trump.

    Indiana just a state in decline. Strange that this "business friendly" state cannot keep pace with the rest of the nation.

  15. I am not surprised and am happy to see that someone is actually putting figures into something my husband and I have witnessed for years. My husband has had 5 jobs in the past 15 years. He has his CPA, was a state board of accountant auditor. When he left the state because their pay is an embarrassment he worked as an auditor and then works as an IT auditor where he has around 5 certificates in Six Sigma, etc… The majority of the companies have left the state for other states or have gone under. Most of his friends have also had to leave the state once they reached mid to upper management. The good paying jobs are not here especially if you reach a certain level. He has been told by recruiters that Indiana’s job market is horrific and the only way certain positions open is when someone dies or retires otherwise there is very little movement which explains why so many of his old co-workers have run through the same companies.

    The CFO of Herff was upset when the equity company decided to get rid of the audit dept. There is a national shortage of auditors and he told my husband that he was the best auditor he had ever worked for….he also told my husband he would never move to Indpls. He drove around the town and only saw large container wearhouses and felt the town looked depressed and that besides downtown it looked like a town with very little opportunity. He lives in Dallas and said if he lost his job he can go down the street and find 20 others. My husband and I are not accustomed to that…here you are so grateful you put in the long hours and put your family second because they can get rid of you in a second and then what is there…believe me he and I have been there 6 times in our 16yrs of marriage

    I can’t even get a job in this town. I have applied at a multitude of jobs and can’t get through the door. A friend of mine who is in management at one of the hospitals told me that they just want young and dumb because anyone w/ education level and who is older can challenge authority and they don’t want that. I have a friend who is extremely well connected through the State House and the contacts she has made there and she can not get a job. I ran into an old state rep who is now a lobbyist and he actually hired his kid to be his intern as she couldn’t get anything. These are people who know people but if there is nothing there is nothing.

    I mentioned that Indiana only offers entry level jobs and a college recruiter for Butler got upset and told me that is not true. I reminded him he is in the businesses of placing Butler students into jobs which are mostly entry level.

    We are in the process of moving to Nashville, TN. He lost his job in May he got calls from all over the country but not a single call here. Nashville, currently the fastest growing city and is known as the healthcare captial of the US for the number of healthcare companies. We were told Indpls is just a big town where Nashville is a small city. I understand what they mean. Good luck to all you stuck in this state…you are going to need it.

  16. Reading what I wrote again I see something that can be clarified. I assumed that restoring democracy automatically would move politics back to the center of the road. Maybe, but not certainly. So another priority is to throw off the shackles of conservatism and restore to both democracy and business balance between cost management and investment.

  17. Louie. I also mourn the loss of one of the great educational adventures ever. The National Geographic Society. What a great investment in opening up our minds to global dimensions – gone the way of much of journalism.

  18. Louis, let me get this straight: It’s Carson who believes that the pyramids were built to store grain? In view of the fact that they are mostly stone, that was a lot of wasted storage place. And they decided to just throw a dead pharoah in there along with the grain? Talk about someone about not making sense. It’s one thing not to know about stuff, but half of being smart is keeping silent about issues where you don’t have a clue and where facts are generally known.

  19. Louis, I just checked, and sure enough. Carson thinks the pyramids were built to store grain. Incredible for him to even say this.

  20. What has always struck me as odd about Indiana is that these problems seem so solvable – the scale of the problems (the size of Indiana overall is not daunting), the resources available (the strategic location of the state) to steal or borrow from other states are so close, its largest city is not that unhealthy, etc. Yet, nothing happens. Too many people worry about being a good Republican or a good Democrat instead of thinking about how to be a good Hoosier.

  21. TLentych, seems to be more concerned with “how much good am I getting out of this” rather than a concern with the common good and making it a better place to live for everyone.

  22. Thank you Stuart for verifying Ben Carson’s statement. This will certainly turn archaeology on it’s ear. Now for some satire fun, Warning this is satire >>> Will Ben Carson announce President and General US Grant is not buried in Grant’s Tomb, but Grant’s Tomb is in fact a grain storage silo for the survivors of the Rapture.

  23. Don’t I know it! My husband’s position in Indy was eliminated so we had to move. And if you think Indy is bad, you should see South Bend, where I grew up. The University of Notre Dame is the only ‘business’ keeping that city afloat. My friends that work at the university say it’s gone corporate and nothing counts anymore except the money from football. The prestige is gone, the care of the employees, gone. The west side is still a ghetto too. Gun violence regularly. The Studebaker buildings are still standing as a skeleton of what it once was. A local business bought the Bendix building and that’s a great thing considering the job I used to have there has disappeared as well. Indiana is becoming the Alabama/Mississippi of the Midwest. Not proud to be ‘from there.’

  24. Stuart, I wasn’t concerned with that thought at all… being a good Hoosier means , to me, being concerned about the common good. Sorry I wasn’t clear.

  25. Drive from Bloomington south to I69 at Crane as witness the absence of local business. Drive along 67 south and see how many small towns are full of boarded up storefronts. We saw the same thing in west Texas and southern New Mexico 3 years ago. Walmarts are all over and appear to be a principle employer in lots of these places. Local businesses die in the face of cheaper merchandise. Lost tax revenue from local business reduces public services and forces people to move away in droves. Once they have decimated the local economies and lost their customers, Walmart closes and moves on to another victim. They are vampires, sucking the lifeblood out of small communities and allowing the heirs to get richer and more powerful.
    When we collectively buy into the flim flam and allow ourselves to be conned into accepting low wage jobs, poor public educational options, theocrats dictates from the legislature, we should not be surprised that we see our public infrastructure and services failing. Public risk, private profit is the name of the game.

  26. Business is such an essential part of most lives that we deny the reality of it not being under our or anyone’s control. While individual businesses can be managed better or worse, business in total is Adam Smith’s invisible hand. For most people business is a reality that we must adapt to, not vice versa.

  27. T Lentych,
    Like Groper said, sometimes I don’t make sense. I intended for my beginning to address you, not to accuse you. Totally agree with you. Sorry I wasn’t clear.

  28. Chronic recession can be caused by many factors, but I think the biggest factor is loss of demand due to wage inequality. Hoosier employers underpay their help to fatten their bottom lines, but the loss of demand resulting from such wage poor mouth means that ancillary employment suffers as well. When people have little money they are not going to come into Hoosier stores, and when the stores are not selling their goods and services, they are not only not going to hire more employees but perhaps lay off some as well in a union-less right to work environment in which employers hold the whip hand, but who are committing economic suicide. Remember how Henry Ford announced that he was going to pay his workers who assembled Model T(s)$5 a day so they could afford to buy one of his cars? He got rich and sold millions of T(s). He was denounced as a socialist by other employers for paying such outrageous wages. I think old Hank was on to something. He proved that you can pay decent wages and still get rich. Hoosier employers take note.

  29. Jerry, the obvious problem is that one business paying higher wages is almost never enough to boost demand for all products and services. Yet that’s where compensation decision rights are – in each business. Of course when the government takes proactive action like raising minimum wage for all employers then it can both boost demand and relieve welfare costs.

    In the end worker compensation has to reflect the value they add and that holds true for executive and investor compensation. That’s what conservatism broke. That’s what oligarchs attack. That’s why extreme wealth redistribution up is a dead end street for the world.

    We do need to manage compensation based on wealth added. Companies have failed us in that regard and that invites in government regulation. Perhaps regrettable but leaving it up to make more money regardless of the cost to others can’t do the job.

  30. I’d like to know the rest of the story. What were the average wages of the jobs created here vs the rest of the US. And, how did the population shift affect us in comparison…

  31. I guess Indiana’s isn’t a “State that Works”, like the logo on the State Office Building says. How long before the entire state is one big TIF? They should take down that stupid sign and put “public risk private profit”, which is a more honest mantra. And, we’ve now seen how “pro business” policies really work over the long-haul.

  32. My daughter-in-law had worked at Rolls Royce for a number of years when she was among the first few hundred let go over two years ago; about 700 were let go months later after RR had published they would not let other than the first few hundred go. A few months later they did offer former employees the opportunity to apply for their old jobs – at minimum wage. (You might wonder what quality work is being done at Rolls Royce by minimum wage workers.) She was told at job fairs that she is too old to get a job; she is 50. She was finally able to cash out her 401k last year; had to refinance her home which was in foreclosure, caught up on all bill but…but still job hunting. She replaced her old furnace with the 401 dollars rather than more repairs. This spring the CITY sewers backed up into her basement (and others on her street) destroying her furnace. Her homeowner’s insurance, with no explanation, just said “we don’t cover that”.

    My son has worked at the same small masonry company for almost 25 years; he carries the title “Supervisor” but…workers hired long after him are paid more, including immigrants. There is no health care, no paid sick leave or vacation time. He has a family so can’t quit his job; his wife works, I have told you her experiences in the state health care system and not being allowed to apply to ACA directly. Her monthly payment for health care of $450 per month with $9,600 annual deductible is being increased by $70 in January.

    Years ago when Western Electric shut down, they offered early retirement which older employees accepted. They also offered the opportunity to transfer to Oklahoma or Florida, WE would pay moving expenses but wages were lower. Their third option was in Hong Kong; they would pay travel expenses, provide subsidized housing, minimum wage jobs and a free bicycle.

    Goldsmith offered his ex-employees the opportunity to apply for their old jobs but…he changed the job descriptions and necessary qualifications so few – if any – were rehired.

    This is how Hoosiers were and are doing in Indiana. Everybody’s got an angle.

  33. This comes under the heading of “by the way”; I have been curious in recent years as to what Mayor Bill Hudnut’s reaction is to what is going on in the Republican party. I read his article in the Star this morning and was very disappointed. A long article with much to say that said very little; I was hoping for some recommendations/suggestions for improvements here. He is very ill but…I expected more from him than politicalese.

  34. Here’s some deep philosophy to ponder.

    As civilization has become more complex we naturally depend more and more on experts to guide us. Or at least we should. That means unavoidably that those of us nearer average in knowledge (education) are farther from the leading edge than we used to be. A price of progress.

    We know because we’ve discussed it here endlessly that also we live in times of grossly unequal wealth distribution and that stresses democracy. Those with big bucks are trying to sell us that that entitles them to out sized decisions rights.

    But how do we suffer from grossly unequal intellectual distribution which is just as undeniable as unequal wealth distribution? Does that justify proportionally unequal decision rights too?

    My opinion is that it does more so than wealth does, but how to manage that is problematic. Democracy is a natural inclination for freedom lovers and that’s important but we’ve seen the consequence of the man on the street being completely bamboozled by content experts too. Consider the climate scientists employed by the fossil fuels industry. They had much of the country eating out of their hands.

    What to do? Maximize freedom or progress? Or find balance.

  35. I wish I had the optimism of Pete. I don’t like the feeling that things are going downhill at a pace too fast to arrest. I wish I felt better about the future of our children. I would have liked to leave them a better world than I inherited. But I’m not., I’m from the era of 454 big blocks and SR 71 supersonics. We were ever in a hurry to get someplace we knew not of. And we’re there.

    We can’t stop polluting, depleting, destroying and killing. Our trees, our rivers, our air, ourselves.

    And we believe something miraculous will arrive in time to save us. Something outside of the forces which brought all this upon us.

    I believe a good way to figure this out is to simply look at tomorrow. If something happens tomorrow, as it did today. Maybe there is hope. Today the Keystone pipeline was killed. Just like the I 69 extension was once killed. See how long it takes for the big money to overturn that and restart their assault upon our home.

    Just you wait until tomorrow.

  36. I can clearly remember when people would run outside to leek up when hearing an airplane going over. I can remember buying kerosene for 10 cents a gallon from the grocery store. I drove across America on Route 36 before there was an I 80. I swam in the East River before it was an open sewer. And Fall Creek. I can look back to when automobiles were not such a factor in the economy. And I can look forward to when they will no longer be. The Tesla? There won’t be a way to put as much energy into a car as 15 gallons of gas. Without busting the springs. Rail? We aren’t ready for that because we are not that civilized as yet.

    I 69 good for Indiana? If we charged only a $1 toll on I 70 across this state, we could fix our streets. But that would require imagination.

    Indiana imagination is limited to regulating women’s bodies.

  37. Would you let Larry operate on your brain?
    Would you let Carson work on your toilet?

    Nuff said!

  38. Apropos of nothing in this blog other than the Hoosier connection, I could not resist posting this comment. Well; I could have resisted but chose not to as it is indicative of much about this Hoosier state.

    Radio fans in Indy have been treated to Bob and Tom for 32 years; those who don’t listen are aware of their antics. Bob announced his retirement Thursday night at his induction into the Radio Hall of Fame…a well deserved honor. Headline on the front page of the Star today, “Radio icon singing off at year’s end”. Personally, I love it and having heard some of their programs I believe they will use this till Bob “sings” his way off at year’s end. Gannett and the Star have given them fodder for their brand of humor.

    I was listening years ago on the morning of Ted Bundy’s execution (at long last) in Florida; either Bob or Tom made a joke about the station having a Ted Bundy BBQ as a sendoff. People began arriving at the station parking lot; they had to buy food and drinks for those who came to attend their Ted Bundy BBQ. Gotta love those guys…even if they don’t sing.

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