Pharos-Tribune

Breaking News

Columns

May 7, 2013

MORTON: Good news is good

I like to complain as much as anybody else. In truth, I may do more than my share of finding fault and wagging a finger in warning. Nonetheless, I’m tired of commentators (including many economists) who find nothing good and only the darkest clouds for the past few months.

When the latest employment numbers were reported last week, they were universally described as “disappointing” and “not up to expectations.” The fact that they demonstrated a continuing upward trend in the national economy was discharged by the gloom merchants as “insufficient to support positive anticipations.”

To me, short-term changes in the month-to-month employment numbers should not be taken as gospel. Right now, unadjusted year-over-year numbers look safest for interpretation. What I see is a slow, but persistent recovery that ranges from vigorous to sluggish across the nation.

When we compare private sector employment in March of 2012 and 2013, North Dakota (7.7 percent growth) and Utah (5.9 percent) lead the fifty states while Kentucky trails way behind at 0.5 percent. Indiana ranks 32nd with 1.6 percent increase compared to the nation’s 1.9 percent advance.

Forty thousand additional jobs in Indiana is not a number that warrants bringing out the celebratory fireworks, nor does it justify wearing funereal garb when addressing the subject.

Jobs alone, however, do not tell the story. How well are American and Hoosier workers being paid for their efforts? The average weekly earnings of American workers rose by more than $15 in the past 12 months to $818.40. That is a 1.9 percent increase on the surface. Yet with consumer prices rising by 1.5 percent over the same period, take home pay squeezed out a meager 0.4 percent increase for the year.

Indiana had a good year in average weekly earnings. We ranked 14th in the nation in the growth of earnings, doubling the nation’s 1.9 percent increase with our own 4 percent growth rate. Our 2013 average of $761.55 put us where many Hoosiers feel comfortable — in 26th place among the 50 states, or 7 percent below the national average.

The highest weekly earnings in the nation (in excess of $925) go to workers in Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut and New York. The lowest weekly earnings are found in Mississippi, South Dakota, Nevada and Arkansas.

Hoosiers did well in the growth of weekly earnings despite not increasing their hours worked per week. Total earnings are the product of hours worked and earnings per hour. Since our hours worked per week were unchanged in March 2013 from 2012, the growth in weekly earnings is due totally to an increase in earnings per hour.

Here, in growth of earnings per hour, Indiana ranked 9th in the nation, besting 41 other states and out-pacing the scourge of inflation.

Now that the Legislature has gone home, maybe our state administration could find out the reason for this potential horn-blowing event.

Morton J. Marcus is an economist, writer and speaker formerly with the Kelley School

of Business at Indiana University.

He can be reached at mortonjmarcus@yahoo.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • MARCUS: The higher education funding mess Public higher education financing is unsustainable as currently configured. This conclusion was reached by two important groups over the past two years. The National Association of State Budget Officers and the State Higher Education Executive Office

    July 29, 2014

  • VILLAGE IDIOT: The state of the reunion “Katy! It’s been so long! How’ve you been?”My God, she’s gained so much weight I didn’t recognize her. It’s a good thing we’re all wearing nametags. I thought it was some distant cousin past due with triplets.“Bob! Long time, no see.”No hair, either.

    July 29, 2014

  • COATS: What to do next with Putin, Ukraine The tragic death of 298 people on board Malaysian Airlines flight 17 in a wheat field in eastern Ukraine marks a moment when words of disapproval and expressions of grief are not enough. This is a moment when action must follow the outrage and rhetor

    July 28, 2014

  • LYONS: The most powerful men in the world? Search the phrase “the most powerful man in the world” and what comes up are photos of grotesquely over-developed weightlifters; also Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Awfully ironic under present circumstances. It’s a cant term TV news anchors use to

    July 28, 2014

  • CEPEDA: What are students to eat now Remember last year’s hysteria over school lunches? Administrators, cafeteria workers, students and parents across the country freaked out when — gasp! — school lunches were made healthier.News reports throughout the 2012-13 school year — when lunch s

    July 27, 2014

  • HOWEY: Rising up to meet Putin’s thuggery Any illusions I had about the progressive nature of Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime quickly dissipated when I returned to my Moscow Grand Marriott room in August 2007. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the spectacle of my papers and note pads

    July 27, 2014

  • HAYDEN: Congress scolded for its failures Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous. A co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Hamilton and fell

    July 27, 2014

  • DORAN: How to handle the pool problem By Terry DoranGuest columnistAs a longtime board member of the parks board and having grown up nearby, it troubles me to read of the decision to close the city pool at Tower Park. This is obviously not a new discussion. I sat in on many meetings with

    July 27, 2014

  • WOLFSIE: A trip to end all trips My wife is planning a very exciting vacation to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. This was a big surprise to me. Not the vacation part, but the 35 years. I thought it was 34. Right now she is on the back porch, the patio table stacked high with

    July 25, 2014

  • FREY: Hero pilot still on a mission to save lives Ordinary people who live their lives, do something spectacular one day, and then embrace a great cause after retirement are tops in my book.Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III is such an individual. He is the pilot who safely landed a US Airways airplan

    July 25, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should grocery and convenience stores be allowed to sell cold beer?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results
Featured Ads
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.