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Those “Good Paying” Jobs

Indiana got some good news last week.

The state’s economy added 12,000 jobs in April and more Hoosiers were working last month than ever before.  Unemployment is at 5.2 percent and the state’s workforce participation rate is 65.3 percent, the national average is 62.8 percent.

Good news, right?  Not for everyone, especially critics.

Despite these little things called facts, the criticism is that while jobs are being created, they are not the “good paying” jobs that Hoosiers need.  They point out to the fact that Indiana’s per capita income is 38th in the nation at slightly less than $41,000 annually.  Of course, Indiana also ranks 5th in the nation for cheapest states to live.  By the way, the state with the highest per capita income was Connecticut ($67,000), which also ranked second in the country by CNBC as the most expensive state to live.   So there’s a bit of trade off.  But all this got me to thinking, what exactly is a “good paying” job?

Since “good” is a relative term, what’s good for me, my wife and dog, might not be good for my brother, his wife and eight kids.  So I decided anything that keeps a roof over your head and food on your table is good, especially considering the alternative.    Of course it helps if you do your part by getting an education, being able to pass a drug test, waiting until you’re married to have kids, and all those things that help keep you out of poverty, but we’re not talking about personal responsibility, we’re talking about good paying jobs.

According the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a single adult in Indiana with two kids needs to make nearly $51,000 before taxes to have a “living wage”.  Of course that depends on where you live (i.e. the cost of living in Richmond is nine-percent cheaper than Indianapolis), how much debt you have, whether you rent or own, etc., but we’ll stick with that number for sake of argument.  And what’s even more interesting two adults with two children and only one working only need to make $46,000 before taxes.  See, there’s something to be said for a two-parent household.  But I digress.

Well, according to the Department of Workforce Development, Indiana created 3,300 manufacturing jobs in April.  And my friends over at the Indiana Manufacturing Association tell me in September 2015 the average weekly wage in manufacturing was $1,058.  So let’s do a little math here.  ($1,058/wk x 52 weeks = $55,016).   So not only were 3,300 jobs created in April whose average salary nine months ago would afford a single parent with two kids a “living wage” but they also have a little extra to save or take a family vacation.  Of course, this assumes you’re qualified for the job in the first place.

Now if you got a job in the trade, transportation and utilities industry (3,300 of those jobs were also created in April), your average weekly salary was about $700 or $36,000 annually.  Your chances are somewhat better in the professional and business services (2,700 jobs created) or the private education and health services (1,900 jobs created).  You’re looking at about $800 weekly or $41,000 annually.  Granted, they don’t help out the single parent with kids, but if you’re single and no kids, you can have a decent quality of life because according to M.I.T. you only need to make slightly more than $20,000 to have a “living wage”.


So what’s the moral of this story.   It’s easy, a “good paying” job means different things to different people.  It depends on whether you’re single or married, have kids, where do you live, what’s your education level, how much debt do you have, can you pass a drug test, etc.   So depending on your situation, there are a lot of good paying jobs out there.  And if you don’t think the jobs you’re qualified for pay “good enough”, maybe it’s not the jobs that are the problem.