Good news on a Friday

May 9, 2008
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Manufacturing seems to churn out about as many lay-off headlines as cars these days, but plenty of good news about the sector is buried in a recent Ball State University study.

Indiana manufacturing workers are accomplishing far more work than peers in neighboring states, says the report, which was prepared for the new manufacturing and logistics booster group Conexus.

The average worker here adds $154,000 in value to steel, cars and other products in a year of toil. In Ohio, the closest challenger, the figure is $149,000. In Michigan, itâ??s $132,000.

Indiana must be a sweat shop, right? Not necessarily, says the studyâ??s author, Michael Hicks, also an IBJ columnist.

Hicks suspects Hoosiers are more productive because the state isnâ??t as dominated by labor unions as Michigan or even Ohio. Non-union plants generally have fewer unnecessary employees, he says.

Donâ??t think companies overlook productivity when they plan expansions, Hicks advises. Indiana is probably landing projects because of its non-union environment, though few companies would admit that.

â??More productive firms are going to go places where they have that greater productivity,â?? he says.

Indiana could ruin the advantage by allowing local governments to continue spending wildly or continuing to accept low educational levels, he warns.

For now, though, he says we should be glad that not only is Indiana highly productive, but also that the productivity has been growing faster than in neighboring states for a decade or more.

What do you think?
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