Make your home page

Indiana wages lag behind national average

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana workers make $11,000 less than the average American, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Rachel Blakeman, the Director of the Community Research Institute of Purdue University Fort Wayne, dug into income data across the state. The average U.S. worker makes $70,343, while the average Indiana worker makes $58,604 a year.

“We tend to have a large share of workers who have ended at their high school diploma and more education is what commands a premium in the workplace, and that simply has not been the priority of this state for a while now,” Blakeman said.

This data set only counts income from where the person works, not where they live. Commuter wages are not counted in their home county.

Blakeman said Marion County is the only county to top the national average at $70,834.

“Marion County’s above-average wages are only about $500 or so. It wouldn’t surprise me if, in the next year or two, Marion County will be below average as well.”

Blakeman notes it is important that there are well-paying job opportunities across the state, not just in larger metropolitan areas.

“We were reminded of that three years ago during the pandemic shutdown of recognizing the value that some of our lowest paid workers in the economy provide to us, and keep the American economy and our local economies humming along,” Blakeman said. “What we want to make sure though is there are opportunities for people to move up.”

Blakeman said low wages in Indiana are even more of a problem as the cost of living in the state continues to rise.

“We’re looking at average wages of 65, 75, 80 cents on the dollar, and our cost of living is normally somewhere between 90 and 95 cents on the dollar,” Blakeman said.

Blakeman said in her opinion education is key, but that does not always mean a traditional four-year college degree, it can include technical school and certificate programs.