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Ball State Study Shows Indiana Personal Income Lags Nation


Photo: Eric Allix Rogers (flickr)

A street of new apartments in Gary. A vice president at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce says the state's low income is due to its low cost of living.

Indiana’s average personal income lags behind the nation as a whole, a recent Ball State University study has found.

Income levels are a measure of standard of living. A higher standard of living tends to promote better outcomes, says Michael Hicks, who is the director of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research and authored the study.

He says the research indicates one of the main reasons Indiana’s income levels are low is that too many highly educated people are leaving the state.

“We really have to do a better job at having communities that would attract young smart people with college degrees and we don’t have many of those. We only have 12 counties that are really growing relative to the country as a whole,” he says.

Hicks says that has caused Indiana to 40th among the states for 2010 per capita income, with the average resident earning $33,981.

But Bill Waltz, the Vice President of Taxation and Public Finance at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, says the incomes in Indiana are lower because cost of living is also lower.

“So when you look at housing costs and taxes and probably utilities and even food and other items, you are going to find the necessary expenditures are quite a bit less than the national average,” he says.

Bill Waltz says the state is also making progress in retaining information technology students—a field that is quickly growing field and typically offers higher salaries.

Emily Wright contributed to this report.

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