Fort Wayne wages increased just 7.9 percent between 2001 and 2005, the lowest among Dayton, Ohio; Rockford, Ill., and other cities studied, according to Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly.
Earnings for workers in the three-county Fort Wayne metro area were only 80.7 percent of the U.S. average last year. During the region's heyday in the late '70s, wages were 103.4 percent of the national average.
The region is still struggling to recover from the massive International Harvester plant closing in 1983. Layoffs by General Electric, Dana and other manufacturers contributed to the woes.
"It's very easy to get discouraged looking at the numbers," said John Stafford, director of the Community Research Institute at the university. "It's like you tell somebody, 'I'm going to take your left arm, your right leg, a couple of organs ... and you're going to function.' Well, you're going to function differently."