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Average wages in Indiana rose by 3.59 percent last year

Workers with Salyer Plumbing place a coating on the inside of a sewer line below Calumet Avenue in Hammond last month. Construction wages grew by 4.13 percent in Indiana last year.

Wages grew by 3.59 percent, or about $1,600, to an average of $46,190 a year in Indiana last year as the job market tightened, but wage growth was slower in the Region.

Recently released U.S. Census Bureau data on Stats Indiana showed that wages rose by 3.27 percent nationally, or an average of $1,754, to $55,375 a year last year. Northwest Indiana lagged behind the rest of the state and the nation, with a 2.88 percent increase in wages to an average of $45,421 a year.

Region residents took home an average of $1,272 more in pay last year than they did in 2016, according to the Census figures.

In the Hoosier state, compensation grew in 2017 in every major job category, including by 4.13 percent in construction, 3.27 percent in manufacturing, 3.19 percent in retail, 2.86 percent in transport and warehousing, 4.05 percent in real estate and 3.45 percent in professional and technical services, according to Stats Indiana. Most dramatically, wages rose by 5.28 percent for administrative and waste services last year. 

Nationally, mining was the only sector to see a decline in wages, with a 0.77 percent decrease as a result of the shift to cleaner and cheaper fuels like natural gas.

In the Gary metro area last year, wages rose by 1.53 percent in construction, 2.98 percent in manufacturing, 1.72 percent in management and 3.99 percent in health care.

Wages typically rise as unemployment shrinks as firms have to offer better compensation to recruit from a dwindling pool or applicants or keep their own employees from taking better offers elsewhere. Unemployment stood at 3.2 percent in Indiana in May, matching the lowest level it's reached in 18 years, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

Joblessness has remained stubbornly higher in Northwest Indiana than in the rest of the state, Chicago metropolitan area or county. The unemployment in the Gary micropolitan division was 4.2 percent in May, a full percentage point higher than the rest of Indiana.

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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.