Making up for lost decades

Just four more years and Indiana will celebrate its 40th anniversary of peak economic performance, at least in modern times.

As Morton Marcus points out in a column in this week’s IBJ, Hoosiers earned 2.53 percent of average national earnings in 1973. We’ve since fallen behind. Our incomes increased, but the nation increased faster.

By 2007, the latest year for which earnings figures are available, Indiana workers made only 1.77 percent of average.

That’s bad news for several reasons. Not only is it more difficult to buy things, but the relative decline suggests our businesses and skills are in less demand. In other words, companies and workers in other states have done better at figuring out what the market wants and providing it.

In the past few years a number of initiatives have popped up to reverse the trend. BioCrossroads is trying to rev up life sciences, which pays well. Conexus, another not-for-profit, is trying to accomplish the same for manufacturing. Indiana Economic Development Corp. is trying to do the same with business attraction. And there are others.

Do you share Marcus’ assessment that, ultimately, we’re to blame for getting into this mess? Are you optimistic that Hoosiers can regain the lost ground? If so, how do we get there?

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