The Herald Bulletin

March 27, 2011

Income levels remain steady

By April Abernathy
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — As Madison County jobs decreased in 2010, the unemployment rate rose, causing already low income levels to remain steady.

Unemployment rates peaked at 11.9 percent in September of 2010 with the preliminary rate being 10.7 percent, a rate higher than the state at 9.5 percent and the nation at 9.2 percent, according to research by Dagney Faulk, director of research at the Center for Business and Economic Research, Ball State University.

For the most part, weekly average wages remained about the same as the previous year, however; these wages were about $167 less than the weekly state average.

Faulk said population within the county was a contributing factor to income levels.

“Population has decreased over time,” Faulk said. “When jobs decrease, people move.”

Population in Madison County was the greatest in the mid 1970s with a population of 142,000. By 2008, the population dropped to 131,000.

Likewise, the number of jobs within the county dropped, with the county losing about 2,000 jobs between the start of the recession in December of 2007 to December 2010.

Barry Ritchey, professor of economics, Falls School of Business, Anderson University, said his personal prediction, not based on any numbers, for the future would be a flat and steady income level in Madison County.

“It’s an older demographic that relies on retirement income. Retirement income is flat,” Ritchey said. “In order for income to rise, either you are attracting new jobs or increasing value. I don’t see us losing or attracting new jobs in 2011.”

Linda Dawson, executive director of the City of Anderson Economic and Community Development, agreed, saying she thought income levels would remain about the same for a few years.

“Income levels will probably hold steady while companies are allocating resources to capital growth,” she said. “Within the next five years, income levels should increase along with fringe benefits as unemployment levels decrease, creating a more employee-friendly market.”

Faulk’s research showed small growth within some industries in Madison County. The highest earning sectors in the county were management companies, utilities, metal manufacturing and transportation equipment manufacturing.

“Shifts occur over periods of time, so I would say that these would continue to increase and be our top,” Faulk said.

Although income will probably hold steady, Faulk also saw promise in a rise in income for the future.

Contact April Abernathy, 640-4861, april.abernathy@heraldbulletin.com.