When it comes to personal income, people in some Indiana counties are living like it’s 1984, 1975 or even 1964, says a new report from Ball State University.
Though many counties within the state and the state overall report an average family income below the national average of $52,762, Kosciusko County reported an average family income fairly close to the national average. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, from 2007-2011, Kosciusko County held an average family income of $51,141, a total of $2,748 dollars higher than the state’s average family income of $48,393.
According to Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research study, “The Causes of State Differences in Per Capita Income: How Does Indiana Fare?” though the state has enjoyed small annual increases in the average standard of living over the last 50 years, there are notable differences in per capita personal income from one part of the state to another.
Though Kosciusko has paced itself along with national averages, other surrounding counties have not fared as well. Both Elkhart and Allen counties reported average family incomes much closer to the state’s average with Allen County reporting $47,767 as its average and Elkhart reporting $47,308.
“We are not saying that Indiana is a poor place, but in some areas of the state, incomes have clearly not kept up with the national or regional averages,” said Michael Hicks, director of CBER, the research division of the Miller College of Business.
According to a press release from BSU, researchers started by examining wages in 2010 inflation-adjusted numbers, then assigning each county the year in which its current standard of living was equal to that of the nation as a whole. The state average was at the 1996 national level.
Though some counties reported averages closer to the national average in recent years, most counties in Indiana reported personal income levels that were 20 to 30 years behind the national average. A few lagged even further behind. For example, LaGrange County income levels were at 1964 levels and Miami and Starke counties both reported income levels near the 1975 average.
“The largest difference between the areas with counties that have kept up or surpassed national income averages are associated with educational attainment at the bachelor’s degree and beyond,” Hicks said. “It also is clear that place-based differences play a large role in per capita income.
“Regional attractiveness to residents plays a major role in per capital income across states and counties. There are some places — including the northern suburbs of Indianapolis — where people choose to live because the housing is nicer, neighborhoods are safer and the schools are better. And because of this concentration of highly educated workers, companies populate those areas.”
According to BSU, the study also looks at how Indiana compares to the rest of the nation, finding that it ranked 40th among the states for 2010 per capita income, with the average resident bringing in $34,042 from all income sources. This is a decline from 1980, when Indiana ranked 30th, which was itself a decline from 1950, when Indiana ranked 21st in the nation.
Sources: Ball State University, Inside INdiana Business