The report released by the Institute for Working Families this month found some grim indicators that show how tough it is for families to recover from the recession’s economic hit. For example, about 70 percent of new jobs in 2011 — many in the service industry — paid full-time wages that aren’t enough to pull a worker out the low-income category.
The report’s release came the same week that state officials announced a rosy fiscal picture for state government. Indiana Auditor Tim Berry and Gov. Mike Pence announced Thursday that the state ended its fiscal year on June 30 with a structural surplus of $483 million ― $93 million more than had been projected in the budget the legislature passed in April. The state also now has reserves of $1.94 billion.
“The balance sheet of Indiana is strong and growing stronger,” said Pence said, who predicted the state’s sound fiscal status will lead to more prosperity by attracting job-creating businesses that see the surplus as a selling point for state.
But critics, including Democrat legislative leaders, said the state’s surplus comes at a time when the state is hurting in other areas.
House Minority Leader Scott Pelath of Michigan City, said in a statement that “the leaders of our state worship these surplus numbers like they are ends in and of themselves…Families still are struggling to keep their heads above water.”
One area where both Pelath and Pence agree is the need to close the skills gap in Indiana, and the Institute for Working Families’ report weighs in on that issue, too. The report found a majority (54 percent) of all jobs in Indiana are still “middle-skill” jobs — often requiring less than a four-year college degree but more than a high-school degree – but only 47 percent of Hoosier workers have the appropriate skills and credentials to fill those middle-skill jobs.