Indianapolis is preparing to celebrate its 200th birthday or anniversary. But Indianapolis isn’t that village invented by the General Assembly on the banks of the White River. Fifty years ago, Indianapolis took an important step forward establishing Unigov. It was an imperfect consolidation of governmental units which has remained virtually unchanged for half a century.

Today’s real Indianapolis is a composite of nine counties with a host of cities and towns, most of them remnants of pastoral villages, each battling to be “something.”

Today, the Mayor of Indianapolis speaks of regionalism. His is a genteel appeal to overturn inequities, either created or endorsed by the Indiana General Assembly, that home of irrational and irresponsible 18th century sentimentality.

 Eight counties serve as satellites of Marion County – Boone, Hamilton, Madison, Hancock, Shelby, Johnson, Morgan, and Hendricks. (Note: I do not call them parasites as would some central-city chauvinists.)

Unlike celestial satellites, these counties have extensive and diverse interactions with their host planet other than gravity alone. Commuting to work in Marion County is only the most prominent of these interactions which include shopping, health care, entertainment, and other services.

Even as these satellite counties grow and develop, Marion County is overwhelmingly important with nearly half of the metro’s population in 2017, contributing almost a third of its population growth 2007 to 2017.

Marion County accounted for 58 percent of all 2017 jobs in the metro area and 24 percent of the job growth 2007 to 2017. Of greater significance, Marion County had 67 percent of the earnings provided by those jobs in 2017 and 63 percent of the growth in earnings over the decade.

What does that tell us? Simply, Marion’s jobs pay better than jobs in the satellite counties. With 58 percent of the jobs, Marion County contributed 67 percent of metro earnings. Plus, despite just a quarter of the growth in jobs, Marion County provided nearly two-thirds of the growth in earnings by metro workers and proprietors.

Perhaps more readily understood, the average job in Marion County paid $74,500 while the next highest average job was in Hamilton County at $59,800. The increase in average earnings from 2007 to 2017 in Marion County was 39 percent or $20,700; none of the other eight counties saw an increase greater than Hancock’s 28 percent or Hamilton’s $12,800.

The essence of regionalism is recognizing and respecting interdependency. This is not happening in the Indianapolis metro area. Satellite counties persist in their opposition to a regionwide transit system which could establish new connections among communities as well facilitating commutes and an efficient integration of other services. They will not work together for their common betterment.

Shortsighted, fool-hardy? Will citizens throughout Indiana vote for the future in the forthcoming municipal elections or continue to support narcissistic and environmentally destructive sprawl? When will they ever learn?

Indianapolis Metropolitan Area

Population

Share

County

2007

2017

Change

Percent Change

Percent of Change

2007

2017

Metro Area

1,773,052

1,975,877

202,825

11.4%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boone

53,778

65,875

12,097

22.5%

6.0%

3.0%

3.3%

Hamilton

253,725

323,747

70,022

27.6%

34.5%

14.3%

16.4%

Hancock

67,115

74,985

7,870

11.7%

3.9%

3.8%

3.8%

Hendricks

137,267

163,685

26,418

19.2%

13.0%

7.7%

8.3%

Johnson

133,933

153,897

19,964

14.9%

9.8%

7.6%

7.8%

Madison

131,203

129,498

(1,705)

-1.3%

-0.8%

7.4%

6.6%

Marion

883,591

950,082

66,491

7.5%

32.8%

49.8%

48.1%

Morgan

68,354

69,713

1,359

2.0%

0.7%

3.9%

3.5%

Shelby

44,086

44,395

309

0.7%

0.2%

2.5%

2.2%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jobs

Share

County

2007

2017

Change

Percent Change

Percent of Change

2007

2017

Metro Area

1,153,169

1,294,409

141,240

12.2%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boone

28,158

41,128

12,970

46.1%

9.2%

2.4%

3.2%

Hamilton

154,994

203,246

48,252

31.1%

34.2%

13.4%

15.7%

Hancock

29,858

33,695

3,837

12.9%

2.7%

2.6%

2.6%

Hendricks

63,475

91,466

27,991

44.1%

19.8%

5.5%

7.1%

Johnson

61,414

73,713

12,299

20.0%

8.7%

5.3%

5.7%

Madison

54,455

53,479

(976)

-1.8%

-0.7%

4.7%

4.1%

Marion

714,552

748,535

33,983

4.8%

24.1%

62.0%

57.8%

Morgan

23,605

24,893

1,288

5.5%

0.9%

2.0%

1.9%

Shelby

22,658

24,254

1,596

7.0%

1.1%

2.0%

1.9%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earnings by place of work ($000)*

Share

County

2007

2017

Change

Percent Change

Percent of Change

2007

2017

Metro Area

55,827,807

83,175,738

27,347,931

49.0%

100.0%

100.0%

100.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boone

1,056,993

1,925,042

868,049

82.1%

3.2%

1.9%

2.3%

Hamilton

7,272,790

12,147,325

4,874,535

67.0%

17.8%

13.0%

14.6%

Hancock

1,113,322

1,604,724

491,402

44.1%

1.8%

2.0%

1.9%

Hendricks

2,283,434

4,031,391

1,747,957

76.5%

6.4%

4.1%

4.8%

Johnson

2,098,957

3,208,578

1,109,621

52.9%

4.1%

3.8%

3.9%

Madison

1,970,489

2,326,980

356,491

18.1%

1.3%

3.5%

2.8%

Marion

38,376,106

55,731,062

17,354,956

45.2%

63.5%

68.7%

67.0%

Morgan

783,105

1,026,389

243,284

31.1%

0.9%

1.4%

1.2%

Shelby

872,611

1,174,247

301,636

34.6%

1.1%

1.6%

1.4%

* Not adjusted for inflation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earnings per Job*

County

2007

2017

Change

Percent Change

Metro Area

48,413

64,258

15,845

32.7%

 

 

 

 

 

Boone

37,538

46,806

9,268

24.7%

Hamilton

46,923

59,767

12,844

27.4%

Hancock

37,287

47,625

10,338

27.7%

Hendricks

35,974

44,075

8,102

22.5%

Johnson

34,177

43,528

9,351

27.4%

Madison

36,186

43,512

7,326

20.2%

Marion

53,707

74,454

20,747

38.6%

Morgan

33,175

41,232

8,057

24.3%

Shelby

38,512

48,415

9,902

25.7%

* Not adjusted for inflation

Data source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

Prepared by Morton J. Marcus

Morton J. Marcus is an economist formerly with the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. His column appears in Indiana newspapers, and his views can be followed his podcast.

© 2019 Morton J. Marcus

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