Numbers paint better picture of state’s economic record

Let’s clarify some issues that may arise in this contentious political year. These data covering 2005 to 2015 may differ somewhat from those offered by other writers, speakers and researchers.

Why? These data are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Quarterly Census of Wages and Employment” via the Indiana Department of Workforce Development’s Hoosiers by the Numbers website, where only the first three quarters of 2015 are available. Other researchers may use other data series based on different sources.

In addition, here we are not coloring the picture to tell a particular story or support a partisan fantasy.

1. Indiana gained 52,300 jobs from 2005 to 2015, with a 61,400 increase in the private sector, but a loss of 9,000 government jobs. While private jobs in Indiana grew by 2.5 percent, nationally the growth was 6.4 percent.

2. Government jobs in Indiana declined by 2.3 percent as the entire country saw a small 0.3 percent increase in government jobs. State government jobs for Hoosiers fell by nearly 4,500 (4.9 percent) as jobs losses in local government totaled 4,600 (1.7 percent).

3. Average weekly wages (adjusted for inflation) in Indiana’s private sector rose by $5.45 during the 10-year period. The average private sector job across the nation paid $50.45 more per week in 2015 than in 2005.

4. Local Hoosier government workers averaged a $43 (5.7 percent) loss in real weekly wages in the decade. Working for a local government in Indiana in 2005 paid 14 percent less than a local government job nationally; that gap increased to 21 percent in 2015.

5. Hoosier state workers, by contrast, had a real $82 (9.9 percent) increase in weekly wages between 2005 and 2015. Their national counterparts saw an 8 percent increase. Whereas the gap between Hoosier state government employees and state job holders nationally favored the latter in 2005 by 16 percent, that gap closed to 14 percent by 2015.

6. The number of establishments (places where people work) in Indiana grew from 153,900 in 2005 to 159,300 in 2015. This growth of 5,400 establishments was a 3.5 percent increase compared with a nationwide advance of 11.3 percent.

7. The average private sector 2005 establishment in Indiana had 16.7 employees and 16.5 in 2015. In contrast, the average establishment nationally had 13.3 workers in 2005 and 12.7 10 years later.

There’s lots of grist here for the miller who knows what to do with these numbers.

Morton Marcus is an economist, formerly with the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Send comments to