The Herald Bulletin

November 25, 2013

Emmett Dulaney: Madison County economics by the numbers

The Herald Bulletin

---- — Over the past three weeks, we started looking at the economic variables associated with Madison County and putting them in perspective by examining numbers related to employment and the labor force, population (demographics and households), welfare, and so on. To wrap this up and see if a blueprint for the future might be a possible thing to draft, here are six of the numbers worth paying attention to that are based on a recent presentation of fifteen at the economic outlook luncheon.

No. 15: The unemployment rate in Madison County is down from what it was last year, but that means very little since the same can be said for 89 of Indiana’s 92 counties. What is more meaningful is that the current unemployment rate is 15 percent higher than that of the state and it has been at, or above, that level for a number of years. Since, theoretically, after continued periods of unemployment those who are in need of work should relocate to where jobs are, this sustained rate above the state average is indicative of structural unemployment. Of all the forms of unemployment that exist, structural is the worst.

No. 14: The state of Indiana is divided into 14 metropolitan statistical areas by the Center for Econometric Model Research. It should come as no surprise that during the past five years nine of those areas – including the one for Anderson/Madison County – had negative employment growth. What should come as a surprise is that only one is projected to continue having that negative employment growth in the coming five years and the loss for the coming period is projected to be more than it was for the previous period.

No. 13: In terms of population, we are the 13th largest county in the state. Overall, the population of the county has not really changed much over the course of several censuses. While the numbers are lower for the city, they are higher for the county and together they stay pretty level just above the 130,000 mark.

No. 12: One of the biggest changes, though, is in the demographic makeup of the residents. We talked about the structural unemployment earlier, and another manifestation of that is the change in income tax filings. Over the most recent five years of data available, there has been a decrease of 12 percent among those declaring income between $30,001 and $250,000 — what we might think of as the middle class (There are also 63 percent fewer declaring income of $1 million or more. Too many of those that are gainfully employed are leaving the county).

No. 11: The current selling price of homes in the area is only 11 percent lower than the asking price.

No. 10: When it comes to homes, there is a 10 percent difference between the average sales price ($83,000) and the median sales price ($75,000). Since the median price is lower than the average sales price, obviously a lot more inexpensive properties are selling than expensive homes.

Space prohibits continuing this numbering game, but next week we will start looking at a handful of possibilities for what could help turn some of the numbers around.

Emmett Dulaney is an Anderson resident and the author of several books on technology. His column appears Tuesdays.