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Indiana income lagging further and further behind

Shown is the Statehouse in Indianapolis where the Indiana General Assembly meets. Despite a decade of business-friendly laws passed by the legislature, personal incomes in Indiana still badly lag those in the nation as a whole.

Indiana's per capita income of $39,578 ranks 39th nationally, and the Hoosier state has been falling further and further behind. 

Average per capita income has only risen by about $1,100 a year since 2004, when Indiana ranked 37th nationally, according to newly released U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data that was compiled by STATS Indiana. The Hoosier state had the 28th highest income per capita in 1994 and the 33rd highest in 1984.

Hoosiers are only making 2.9 percent more than they were a decade ago, which is the 42nd smallest rise in that time among the nation's 50 states. Income growth slowed considerably in Indiana over the last decade, considering it's risen by 18.1 percent over the last 20 years.

Last year, the average Indiana resident only made 85.9 percent of what the average American earned.

A big reason for the decline is that Indiana has historically relied heavily on manufacturing, a sector that has been shedding jobs because of automation and outsourcing up until only recently. It's estimated the United States has lost around 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, and they're often replaced with much lower-paying jobs in sectors like retail and hospitality. 

The Indiana Democratic Party long has harped on the state's stagnant wages.

"This figure indicates that Mike Pence's idea to provide a 'snapshot' of the state's economy is failing the state," party spokesman Drew Anderson said. "The fact is, per capita income for Hoosiers has declined from its 33rd ranking in 2004, and it's because Mike Pence believes quantity of jobs instead of quality of jobs would help him on an election year."

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State officials involved in Gov. Pence's economic development efforts beg to differ with Anderson.

They say the state has shifted its economic development strategy to chase more good-paying jobs, such as in areas like digital marketing, financial consulting, bio-pharmaceuticals and medical technologies.

In December, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. announced 17 newly relocated companies would pay an average salary of $82,900, or 85 percent higher than the state's average wage.

When those number's were released, Pence touted the state's low unemployment rate and its business-friendly climate.

"Companies both large and small are finding success and creating jobs across Indiana because we are a state that works," Pence said.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp., formerly the Department of Commerce, said new jobs announced during 2015 should pay an average wage of $24.87, which is above the national average and a 14 percent increase over 2014.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.