Slammed by the double-whammy of the shutdown of the local auto industry in the 1990s and 2000s and the recession of 2009, Anderson and Madison County have suffered.
The county’s poverty rate is at 19 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the unemployment rate has lingered around 10-11 percent. Both figures are significantly higher than state and national averages.
However, the local economy is showing signs of life. In August, the county unemployment rate was down to 8.6 percent, 1.1 percentage points lower than July and 1.2 percentage points lower than August of last year.
In fact, the August 2013 mark is the county’s lowest unemployment rate since 7.4 percent in November 2008. That’s almost five years ago.
One note of caution: The improvement in the unemployment rate is tempered by the recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which showed the number of jobs in Madison County declined by 854 from March 2012 to March 2013. The addition of new jobs since March, along with the county’s slow trickle of population loss, accounts for the improved unemployment rate in August.
Another good sign for the local economy is the recent improvement in the local real estate market. In a Herald Bulletin article published Sept. 22, agents told of a brisk and improving market for sale of homes and commercial properties.
Statistics support their assertions. Through the first seven months of 2013, compared to 2012, pended home sales in Madison county rose 10 percent and average sales price rose 9 percent.
The improvement in home sales owes to greater consumer confidence in real estate values and low interest rates. It also owes to a recognition that you can get a good property in Madison County at a reasonable price. The average home sale price in our county was $86,000 during the first seven months of the year, easily the lowest figure in the nine-county Indianapolis area.
Of course, there’s a flip side to low property values. Buying is easy. But it can be hard to get a good return on your investment when you decide to sell.
That’s why it’s important that local quality of life continues to be an emphasis for community leaders. Good schools, parks, roads and other infrastructure make the county a more desirable place to live and can help drive property values up, while driving unemployment down.
Madison County finally has momentum in the right direction. Let’s keep it going that way.
In summary Employment rates and real estate sales show the Madison County economy is headed in the right direction.