If you’re looking for the highest paid local jobs, a few career fields top the list, including utilities, management and manufacturing.

But those jobs are not the most readily available in Johnson County, according to a study by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which looked at average earnings, not including benefits, for different industries in 2014.

In Johnson County, the highest paid workers are in utilities, making $94,142 per year on average, followed by workers in management, making $80,500 per year, according to the study.

Workers in manufacturing were also near the top of the list, with average earnings of $66,938, the study said.

While the manufacturing industry makes up nearly 8 percent of our local workforce, jobs in utilities and management make up less than 1 percent in total, the report said.

Instead, the most common jobs were in retail, with nearly 15 percent of the workforce and average earnings of $25,421. The next-most-common were government jobs, with 10 percent of the workforce and average earnings of $53,024, and health care workers, with nearly 10 percent of the workforce and average earnings of $48,918, the report showed.

Local officials have said they want to increase the county’s average hourly wage, which was listed as being about $17.50 in the study. Other reports have shown the amount to be between $16.50 and $22 per hour, depending on whether the amount includes benefits. In some studies, Johnson County had one of the lowest average wages in central Indiana.

The goal is to bring more high-paying jobs to the county, local officials said.

Some of the key career fields are health science, high-skilled manufacturing and defense, which often have higher wages, said Cheryl Morphew, president and chief executive officer of the Johnson County Development Corp.

Health science is one key focus area, and in recent years, Greenwood has seen an increase in the number of offices built along County Line Road, especially in the medical industry. Those offices are often locating close to southside hospitals, Morphew said.

Defense also is an important industry that officials want to grow with nearby Camp Atterbury and Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, she said.

The ideal jobs officials want to attract to their communities pay higher wages, such as in high-skilled manufacturing. That also has been a focus of local schools, who want to prepare students for careers in those industries.

Johnson County is already known for manufacturing, but the focus is also on the innovation-based side of manufacturing, which is higher skilled, higher technology and highly automated, and requires more of a skillset, Morphew said.

“That will always will be a target for us here, because we make things here,” she said.

Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers points to existing companies, such as Endress+Hauser, Nachi, KYB and Nestle Waters, as the type of jobs he wants the city to have. Those jobs are often in high-skilled manufacturing, which pay more, he said.

Often, those companies are willing to train workers to learn the skills they need to know, and those advanced skills come with a higher wage, Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness said.

“If you prove yourself, they will teach you what you need to know,” he said.

But that also means that communities need to have a prepared and trained workforce for those companies when they are interested in locating or building in Johnson County.

Wages are a key factor McGuinness looks at when a company considers coming to Franklin, he said. For example, when Hetsco moved to a shell building the city helped pay to build, it offered an average wage of $27 per hour, he said.

Those are the type of jobs the city wants more of, he said.

“I don’t care about how many jobs you are creating. I care way more about the quality of jobs,” he said. “If you’re creating 50 jobs or 500 jobs, it is way more important to see what you are paying your employees.”

At a glance

Here is a look at average earnings by industry in Johnson County:

Utilities: $94,142

Management: $80,500

Manufacturing: $66,938

Government: $53,024

Healthcare and social assistance: $48,918

Construction: $43,257

Transportation and warehousing: $36,552

Educational services: $26,028

Retail: $25,421

Accommodation and food services: $19,448

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.