Maureen Groppe, writing for Gannett has a good article entitled Income inequality study finds gap widening in Indiana. Incomes for Indiana’s upper and middle classes did not grow over the past 30 years as much as they did for the nation generally. And, during that time, Indiana was one of seven states where the average income of the bottom quintile actually fell.
The average income for the bottom fifth of Hoosier households declined almost 7 percent ($1,378) since the late 1970s. Average income for the top fifth grew 57 percent ($53,906). The average income of the middle fifth grew 22 percent ($10,567).
One source cites the “skills gap” (about which, see) and the decline in manufacturing jobs. The departure of manufacturing jobs no doubt contributes significantly to the drag on Hoosier incomes, particularly at the bottom. It used to be, I gather, that if you had a basic education and followed some basic rules about punctuality and working diligently at your assigned task, you could do o.k. by yourself and your family. Now, I think we have a very difficult time articulating precisely what a person should learn in order to earn a stable, family-sustaining income. So, it’s not terribly surprising if people come up short on their education.
Our tax policy isn’t exactly helping either. We got rid of inventory taxes, capped property taxes and raised sales taxes. We are eliminating the inheritance tax and reduced the corporate income tax. This is particularly awesome if you are heir to a corporation that owns real estate and inventory. Doesn’t do as much for you if you are a wage earning renter that buys stuff.