IBJOpinion

MARCUS: 90 counties show income improvement

Morton Marcus
May 1, 2010
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Morton Marcus

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis has released personal-income data for each county in the nation. The Indianapolis area did not fare well.

These data include earned income, interest, dividends, rent and transfers (Social Security and unemployment compensation). When divided by population, we get per-capita personal income. In recent years, local and state politicians have latched onto PCPI as a yardstick of economic performance and well-being.

Thus it was an outraged Alexander Hamilton (not the fellow on the $20 bill) who rang my doorbell. “My county is not first? How could that be? We are the elite of the state. We have wider streets so that more drivers can be first at traffic lights. We have the most growth, which shows how popular and virtuous we are.”

“Alex,” I said calmly. “It happens. PCPI in Boone County surpassed Hamilton County several years ago. You just weren’t watching.”

“But why? Why is Dan Boone’s county on top and not mine anymore?” he asked.

“Suburban pioneers,” I replied. “Wealthy people, often when their children have moved on, leave the urban core seeking space, fresh air, exclusivity and distance from newcomers, while maintaining close contact with the core.

“As Hamilton County grew, adding stores, jobs and traffic, people responded and your county began to lose some of its desirability. Then a few pioneers migrated west within the county. Later, pioneers were entering Boone County for the same reasons that gave rise to Hamilton’s growth in the past.

“Now who is moving into Hamilton County? People with children. Children don’t earn money. They wear and eat money. Even if newcomers earn as much as the settled population, those children will cause PCPI to grow slowly or even fall.”

“But now we’re second in the state,” Alex moaned. “We look better in gold than silver. And look at who’s just below us: Porter, Hancock, Dubois, Floyd and Warrick. Where are these places? For whom were they named? What do people do there?”

“I think,” I said, “the more interesting aspect of those PCPI figures is that the spread between the wealthiest and the poorest counties in the state has hardly changed in 20 years. Back in 1998, when Hamilton was No. 1, its PCPI was 2.35 times higher than bottom-dwelling Starke County. In 2008, No. 1 Boone was 2.26 times higher than last-place LaGrange County.”

“So what!” Alex said. “The rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. Tell me something I don’t know.”

“OK,” I said. “Only two Indiana counties had declines in PCPI between 2006 and 2008: LaGrange and Elkhart. The other 90 counties advanced (without allowing for inflation, which hardly mattered in this period). While PCPI for the nation increased 6.5 percent, Indiana’s rose only 5.2 percent (41st among the 50 states).

“Every county (except Shelby) in the Indianapolis metro area lagged the state in PCPI growth. So, too, did five other counties. But all is not as it may seem. Take your county, Hamilton … .”

“Yes? Something good?” he asked eagerly.

“Hamilton,” I fed him slowly, “led the state in population growth from 2006 to 2008 with a 7.3-percent increase. That depressed its growth in PCPI, despite seeing a 10.5-percent advance in personal income. Similar results can be found in all five of the state’s fastest-growing counties in population, all of which were in the Indianapolis area.”

“So who had strong growth in both income and population?” Alex asked.

“I thought you’d never ask,” I replied. “Jasper, Hamilton and Porter counties were the top three. But, as I said earlier, Hamilton’s population growth (first in the state) was so strong that it offset much of the gains in income (17th), leaving the county ranked 85th of 92 in PCPI growth.”

“Then,” Alex said, “if growth of PCPI is the target, the best thing is to raise income and decrease population.”

“Exactly,” I said. “Try suggesting that in public.”•

__________

Marcus taught economics for more than 30 years at Indiana University and is the former director of IU’s Business Research Center. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at mmarcus@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

  2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

  3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

  4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

  5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!

ADVERTISEMENT