The report found that Indiana resembles a Southern state when it comes to child poverty, low income families, rates of adults with a postsecondary degree, and other factors.
According to the report, Indiana now has the lowest union coverage and the highest rates of uninsured residents compared to any of its neighbors, including Kentucky.
“I work at a job and it’s $13 dollars an hour, but yet I’m only getting 30 hours a week and therefore, it’s forcing me to get health insurance and possibly need to get food stamps,” said Danny Simmons of Evansville.
A report by Indiana Institute for Working Families claims median household wages fell below the southern average years ago and never recovered.
In fact, the numbers say Indiana has the highest rate of poverty-wage jobs and low-income working famillies in the Midwest.
Alison Nicholson, Development Director with the Tri-State Food Bank, has seen their need increase drastically. She says it’s not the homeless, but working families that their agencies see most often.
“They’re working so hard and they have to decide, you know, do I pay for my food this week or do I pay for my rent?”
According to economics experts, it’s not all doom and gloom. UE Assistant Economics Professor David Murphy says the study’s numbers don’t necessarily reflect other statistics, like employment.
“For a lot of people in Indiana who are suffering from low wages and unemployment, those problems are there, the report touches on that. But also there are a lot of reasons to be optomistic, I think.”
Lawmakers might agree. In an emailed statement, Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer said: Thanks to responsible Republican leadership, from Governor Eric Holcomb to our legislative supermajorities, Indiana’s economy is booming. Our unemployment rate is lower than our neighbors and lower than the national average. We have the second lowest cost of living in the nation, the third highest economic outlook, per capita income growth is five times higher than the national average, and more Hoosiers are working today than ever before. Indiana is clearly on the right track.”
But no matter where Hoosiers stand on the numbers, people we spoke to seem to agree on a solution:
“I’d like to see more programs for people to join, to get the opportunity to make higher wages,” Simmons told us. Murphy agrees.
“Continue to grow those programs and develop them, so the statistics for these families can improve.”
(This story was originally published on September 5, 2018)