FORT WAYNE – A study presented to the Allen County commissioners shows the area has recovered well from the recession in terms of employment, but wages remain a problem.
The report, dubbed Allen County Insight, is a new quarterly report detailing employment, wage and other economic data. It is created by the Community Research Institute at IPFW, and the first one was presented to the commissioners on Friday.
The reports are included as part of the institutes $25,000 annual contract with the county commissioners.
The report compiles economic data into a single document showing the current health of the local economy. This quarter, the report focused on employment in the Fort Wayne metropolitan area, which includes Allen, Wells and Whitley counties.
The data showed the area doing relatively well in adding jobs compared with other regions. For example, the Fort Wayne region is at 97.1 percent of its 2000 employment levels, beating the statewide total of 95.1 percent. In addition, the region is above its 2009 employment levels – the depth of the recession – and performing better than the state and nation in this period.
John Stafford, institute director, offered some caution to the employment numbers because the sector adding the most jobs in the past few years is temporary health services. This means companies are looking to hire, but they are not sure about whether they can afford permanent positions, he said.
The automotive and medical industries also added more than 1,000 jobs since 2009.
Unfortunately, even as employment has increased locally, wages have continued to fall further behind the nation, Stafford said. Per capital personal income has not risen enough in the past decade to keep up with inflation, and average wages have fallen well below national averages.
I think we still face some very serious long-term challenges, he said.
Overall, Stafford said the local recovery from the recession has been leading the way in Indiana, but he cautioned the commissioners to keep working at economic development because the job is never done.