The Herald Bulletin

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November 18, 2013

Emmett Dulaney: Madison County Economic Outlook 2014: Part III

Over the past two weeks, we started looking at the numbers for the county and putting them in perspective by examining variables related to employment and the labor force, population (demographics and households), and welfare. This week, the focus will be on education and housing: two areas that have shown signs of improvement.

Education

With a public school enrollment of just under 19,000, the county constitutes just under 2 percent of all students in Indiana public schools, but almost 4 percent of all high school dropouts in the state. The good news is that these numbers have decreased from past years with the addition of alternative schools such as the Excel academy and newcomer The Crossing. Working in conjunction with each other, these entities are slowing the spiral in which the schools continued to suffer and perform poorly in previous years. The 2012 graduation rate for Anderson Community School Corp. is 84.6 percent and not that far below the state’s rate of 87.9 percent. This is a remarkable turnaround from only two years previous when the rate for ACS was 59.6 percent.

On an unfortunate note, more than 50 percent of the students enrolled in public schools in Madison County are on free or reduced lunches and teen pregnancies continue to be a cause for many students to have to leave school.

Housing

The housing market showed signs of rebounding in Madison County. Residential construction as measured by single-family building permits was similar to 2011 levels after bottoming out in 2012. Comparing only through-September numbers, there was an 89 percent increase in the number of permits issued in 2013 over 2012. The Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis estimates the 66 permits issued in 2013 to have created a total economic impact of $11,819,531 in local income, $2,683,229 in local taxes, and 200 local jobs.

According to the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors, the number of new listings for existing homes decreased slightly in August 2013, compared to August of previous years, to its lowest level in five years. Closed sales are up 10.6 percent, and while the median sales price is down, the average sales price is the same as it was one year ago and the percent of asking price obtained has increased to its highest level in four years at 88.9 percent. While this is good news, the bad is that the average sales price is the same as it was last year (approximately $83,000), and the median sale price is lower (approximately $75,000), indicating more lower-priced properties are selling than higher. With 843 homes on the market, this is the lowest number in five years.

Next week, we will wrap up the look of the numbers with a list of 15 things worth focusing on, and see if a blueprint for the future might be a possible thing to draft.

Emmett Dulaney’s column appears Tuesdays.

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