Wages Take Center Stage as Worker Shortage Continues Across Indiana


Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: “Our state continues to celebrate low-wage, low-skill positions as if getting jobs that pay above the paltry minimum wage is a win for Hoosier workers”

WHAS: “Indiana union calls governor’s unemployment decision ‘cruel’”

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Democratic Party, the organization that advocates for the future of Indiana and its families, today double downed on its call for elected leaders to increase the state’s minimum wage after news reports once again highlighted an ongoing shortage that’s largely due to low wages being offered to Hoosier workers. Democrats agree with numerous state economists and academics who have advised the best way out of this growing problem would be to raise worker wages, which would provide more opportunities for Hoosiers to afford essential family services – like childcare. Raising the minimum wage and passing President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan could help solve these intersecting issues facing Hoosier families. 

However, Governor Holcomb and the Indiana Republican Party are just saying “no”. In fact, the INGOP is once again putting its extreme partisanship ahead of delivering solutions for Hoosier families. This includes Holcomb ending unemployment insurance provided by the American Rescue Plan and describing earning a minimum wage as having a “minimum expectation” with opportunity. Further, Republicans like U.S. Senators Mike Braun and Todd Young continue to peddle debunked myths about why they are against increasing the minimum wage — setting Indiana back from the rest of the nation. 

Here’s a look at what Hoosiers have read over the last week: 

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: “‘If you are looking to see Indiana’s economic development priorities compared to other states, this split between rejoicing in software developers for North Carolina’s Research Triangle and warehouse workers in central Indiana showcases what is amounting to a race to the bottom locally,” said Rachel Blakeman, director of Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Community Research Institute. “When was the last time you saw Indiana economic development leaders touting jobs that paid more than three times the national average wage? Yep, I can’t remember either. Our state continues to celebrate low-wage, low-skill positions as if getting jobs that pay above the paltry minimum wage is a win for Hoosier workers when in reality jobs with low pay costs state coffers as these families may qualify for public assistance programs like free and reduced lunch, utility assistance and food assistance.’”

“As our elected officials boast of a strong credit rating, expansive surplus and balanced budget, a Brookings Institution report lays it out plainly: Median annual earnings growth of just 0.3% per year, 46th worst in the nation. Yearly median earnings stood at just $34,300 in 2019.”

South Bend Tribune: “Another consideration is wages. While many restaurant boast they’ve increased hourly rates, Ball State University economist Michael Hicks has compared help wanted ads and wages advertised in 2018 to what is available today. Hicks found that over the last three months, the average annual salary of advertised jobs in Indiana was $16.77 per hour. Adjusted for inflation, the average annual salary of all advertised jobs in 2018 was $16.82.

Businesses have not adjusted their wages in a way that reflects, at least in Indiana, the anxiety that they have expressed,’ he said. ‘People make choices about work based on their free time and that might mean caring for a family member or getting a college degree. And if a business wants people to be hired back, they’re gong to have to pay more, and I’m not convinced $13 to $15 is a competitive wage.’”

WHAS: Indiana union calls governor’s unemployment decision ‘cruel’

“The Indiana AFL-CIO is criticizing Gov. Eric Holcomb’s decision to withdraw the state from federal programs providing an extra $300 in weekly payments to unemployed workers and expanded jobless benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The labor union said it cost the state nothing to remain in the programs, arguing that they have provided millions of dollars a week to families facing joblessness.”

“AFL-CIO President Brett Voorhies said Holcomb was “trying to coerce Hoosiers into low-paying jobs.” He calls the governor’s decision ‘cruel and unnecessary.'” 

IndyStar: Indiana workers aren’t applying for low-wage jobs. So the governor cut unemployment.

“Angela Linker, who lives in Fort Wayne, lost her low-wage job at the start of the pandemic, relied on unemployment benefits as she looked after her daughter and grandson and now is reconsidering her work options. 

After eight years at a job that didn’t pay enough for her to afford child care without government assistance, she’s ready for something better. 

Many workers, like Linker, were forced to the sidelinesduring the pandemic and are reconsidering what kind of job they want to do, potentially driving a temporary worker shortage in low-wage jobs throughout Indiana and the country.”

“While workers and their advocates say businesses need to raise pay and benefits to fill jobs, Holcomb and business owners are banking the cut in federal benefits and the requirement to search for work while receiving unemployment to drive workers back.”

“It’s a big gamble to turn down hundreds of millions in federal aid in hopes that the decision will drive people back to work. Economists are skeptical of the move because there are so many reasons people may be waiting to return to work, including retiring early, choosing to take care of kids and family or just, as is the case with Linker, reconsidering careers.”

“Holcomb should have waited to see if other states saw workers come back after cutting benefits before making the decision, said Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State University. 

“It’s a gift to low-wage employers at the expense of the rest of the Indiana economy,” he said.

Many of the new jobs created are in low-wage industries and the data has yet to show a significant and sustained spike in hiring, he said.”


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