May 1, 2016

THE PRODUCTIVITY BOOM:

Indiana Economy Offers Caution and Inspiration as Primary Nears ( TRIP GABRIELMAY 1, 2016, NY Times)

[Indiana, which holds its primary on Tuesday, defies an easy picture of Rust Belt decline. By many measures, the state is humming economically, offering a contrarian reality to the gloomy scenario that the presidential candidates are presenting to motivate voters.

With nearly one in five jobs in manufacturing, the highest share of any state, Indiana's gross domestic product is accelerating faster than any of its Great Lakes neighbors, according to the latest figures from the Commerce Department.

Unemployment at the end of last year was 4.4 percent, below the national average of about 5 percent. Even though the figure has ticked up in 2016, economists attribute the increase to the large number of people returning to the work force, including job seekers moving to Indiana.

Factories in heavily industrial Elkhart County, a center of recreational vehicle manufacturing where unemployment has been significantly reduced, have resorted to calling a homeless shelter to look for workers.

The Indianapolis region is growing faster than Chicago, Cleveland or Detroit, and personal income statewide rose 3.6 percent last year, faster than the national average.

"The economy here in terms of the data is as good as it's been in a generation," said Michael J. Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.

Mr. Hicks said that if measured by the value of goods produced, manufacturing has never been stronger in Indiana. The boom in the auto industry has played a big role in this because of the many parts factories in the state.

Factory jobs have declined, he added, but not because of trade deals with other countries as Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders assert, but because Indiana factories are increasingly efficient and fewer workers are needed.

Posted by at May 1, 2016 8:47 AM

  

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