My now departed friend, George Bond, sent me many emails with verses to that old refrain, “They’re laying eggs now, like they never usta, ever since the roosta came into our yard.”
It comes into my head, and doesn’t leave, every election year.
I’m told a hen will lay eggs whether or not there is a rooster, but some say she’ll be more productive with the noisy fellow about. Politicians tell tales whether or not there is an election, but they are more proficient at it during election periods.
Gov. Mike Pence and former Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives John Gregg are running about the Hoosier barnyard crowing about our economy. The governor proudly points to many thousands of new jobs for Hoosiers during his term in office. Speaker Gregg laments Hoosier earnings are lagging.
Both have facts on their side, perhaps somewhat embellished, but facts none-the-less.
Let’s look at those facts. The governor was inaugurated in January 2013, so let’s say his influence started in April of that year. From April 2013 to April 2016, private sector jobs in Indiana increased by 146,600.
Our growth in private sector jobs was 5.9 percent vs. 6.8 percent for the nation. If we merely matched the national average growth rate, there would be 24,700 more jobs in Indiana today. Our growth in public sector jobs equaled only 400, a 0.1 percent increase vs. the nation’s 1.0 percent rise.
Indiana saw strong growth in manufacturing jobs, 6.2 percent compared to 2.4 percent nationally, but that strength is in the weakest sector of America’s economy.
Yes, there are more jobs today in Indiana (and the U.S.) than at any time in history. Currently, Hoosier jobs are up 3.1 percent from 2007, yet the nation advanced five percent.
Now let’s look at average earnings (including benefits) per job. The data take us to only 2014. In that year Indiana hit a milestone: the average Hoosier job earned more than $50,000 for the first time in history (without accounting for inflation). Sounds good, but the U.S. passed that milestone six years earlier.
In Indiana, average earnings per job were below the national average by at least 10 percentage points every year in this century. And you have to go out a few decimal points to find something good to say about the growth of our earnings per job. From the start of the Great Recession (2007) and well into the recovery (2014), Indiana’s average earnings grew by 2.088 percent per year vs. the nation’s 2.080 percent.
However, in 2014 itself, the U.S. advanced by 2.7 percent, while Indiana achieved an increase of only 1.9 percent.
That’s the chief lesson of these data on jobs and earnings: however good things seem to be in Indiana, they are less than mediocre compared to what’s happening in America. Our share of the nation’s jobs and the earnings they provide is in long-term decline. Short-term thinking won’t correct our problems.
Maybe we should focus less on chickens and eggs and find a good rooster.