BRIAN HOWEY: Ranking the Hoosier condition

2013-12-29T00:00:00Z BRIAN HOWEY: Ranking the Hoosier conditionBy Brian Howey nwitimes.com
December 29, 2013 12:00 am  • 

As we pull away from 2013, what is the state of the Hoosier condition?

The statistical data from 2010 through this November tells the story of a state steeped in automobiles, agriculture and a changing landscape.

We ranked 16th in the U.S. in population at 6,537,334, or 2.08 percent of the nation. Indiana ranks 16th in total households, 17th in single parents, 17th in people living alone, 17th in total housing united and ninth in the nation in home ownership (at 72 percent).

Indiana ranks sixth in manufacturing, seventh in durable goods and nondurable goods, 16th in total gross domestic product, 10th in warehousing and storage — coming in a state that bills itself as the "Crossroads of America," eighth in chemical manufacturing, sixth in transportation equipment and furniture, and 13th in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting. We ranked 13th in 2011 in exports, sending out to the world $32.29 billion worth of goods.

Hoosiers rank 39th in per capita income, with residents making 87.2 percent of U.S. income $38,119, and 33rd in household income at $46,974, down from $47,399 in 2011 (32nd). In 2002, we ranked 24th at $53,482. That is a 13.6 percent decline in the last decade, ranking us 48th.

The Indiana General Assembly passed and then-Gov. Mitch Daniels signed Right to Work legislation in February 2011. Union membership declined from 11.3 percent of the workforce in 2011 (302,000 workers, or 15th in the nation) to 9.1 percent in 2012 (246,000 workers). Only 10 percent of the workforce is represented by a union, ranking us 15th, down 2.4 percent from 2011.

Indiana ranks 10th in bankruptcies over time in 2012, and sixth in the rate per 1,000 people. We rank third in methamphetamine lab busts (1,429 in 2012) behind Missouri (1,825) and Tennessee (1,585) while Kentucky ranked fourth with 919.

But we are industrious. Indiana ranks second in automotive employment at 102,000 workers. We produce 11 percent of autos in the United States and are home to 630 automotive companies. With Honda, Subaru and Toyota in the state, Indiana has the highest level of Japanese investment per capita in the United States.

Nearly 17 percent of Hoosiers in the nonfarm workforce are employed in manufacturing, the most of any state according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since 2010, Indiana has added the third-most manufacturing jobs of any state in the country — an impressive 9 percent growth rate.

We rank seventh in coal production producing more than 36 million tons annually, and coal-fired electric power plants provided 82 percent of our net electrical generation in 2011.

Indiana ranked 20th in the number of patents granted in 2012, with 1,963 awarded. We ranked second in prosthesis patents, seventh in surgery instruments, eighth in power plants, second in communications, fifth in internal combustion engines and sixth in drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions.

Gentlemen and women, start your engines!

Indiana ranked 26th in venture capital deals, and second in the United States in adjusted dollars per deals. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, we ranked 21st in giving, with Hoosiers donating an average of 4.5 percent of their discretionary income to charity. We are generous in giving of our time: Three in 10 said they volunteered at a nonprofit organization.

The 62,000 Indiana farms ranks 14th in the nation in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We rank first in the nation in ducks; second in popcorn, ice cream and processed tomatoes; third in spearmint; fourth in eggs and peppermint; fifth in hogs, soybeans, corn, cantaloupe and watermelons; sixth in turkeys; seventh in cucumbers; 10th in blueberries; 14th in milk cows; and 17th in marijuana.

Our state forester, Burnel C. Fischer, observed that 200 years ago, 85 percent of Indiana was covered with forests. A century ago, much of that had been cleared for our farms and industry, and in 1922, state Forester Charles Deam predicted Indiana would be treeless in 15 years. "I’m pleased to report that as we enter the 21st century, forests have rebounded and now comprise almost 20 percent of the state (4.5 million acres)," Fischer reported.

I could not find recent statistics in where we rank in limestone production, but the Indiana Geological Survey reports we produce 2.7 million cubic feet of limestone annually. The Great Lakes region of steel production that includes Chicago and (mostly) Northwest Indiana produced 676,000 tons of raw steel in a recent week in October. This region generally ranks first in the nation.

How educated are we?

Indiana ranks 43rd in people with bachelor degrees, 44th in total degrees, but we rank 14th nationally in college enrollment with 457,824 students in 2012, and we rank eighth in in out-of-state students. U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Notre Dame, No. 17; Purdue University – West Lafayette, No. 65; Indiana University – Bloomington, No. 83; and Ball State University, No. 184.

We have a natural advantage in location (80 percent of the U.S. population is within a day's drive at applicable speed limits), great resources, fertile soil, world-class universities, a love of the automobile, and a great upside. The key to our success is to forge a better educated and prepared workforce.

Brian Howey is publisher of Howey Politics Indiana. Follow him on Twitter @hwypol. The opinions are the writer's.

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