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Status of Working Families in Indiana, 2011

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The Status of Working Families in Indiana 2011 report analyzes the general state of Indiana’s economy as it relates to working families, its workforce, its struggle with maintaining livable wages, and subsequently, the state of poverty in Indiana. The report will focus on Indiana’s status in a post-recessionary economy.

The Great Recession lasted from December of 2007 through June 2009 and was the worst economic downturn the United States has experienced since the Great Depression. The national media often referred to Indiana as a model for economic recovery based on the fact that the state budget had a surplus for several years during the recession. However, Indiana’s actual recovery, as measured by the economic health of Hoosier families, is inconsistent with these portrayals.

To be clear, Indiana is not out of the woods. In fact, the data shows a recovery in Indiana marked by a weakened labor market, an unprecedented decline in wages, and dramatic increases in poverty. Due to across-the-board state budget cuts, a significant loss of public-sector jobs, and low uptake rates in work-support programs due to a public policy environment that’s not been conducive to working families, tens of thousands of Hoosiers are unnecessarily experiencing the human toll of this recession. While Governor Daniels could not predict the Great Recession when he made raising disposable income for Hoosiers his number one goal as governor, it should not have been forgotten.

Just as a family’s financial surplus is only as good as the stability of that family, the same is true for the state of Indiana. It is clear that Indiana’s families are suffering, and yet, despite reserves, the financial security of working families has not been a high legislative priority. As such, policymaker’s need to take swift action to attract high-paying quality jobs, raise the bar on wages for hard working Hoosiers, and provide the necessary work-supports if working families are to regain their footing in this economy.

Finally, because public policy decisions made at the federal and state levels do affect the state’s economic recovery, and subsequently, the well-being of Indiana’s working families, the Institute will provide recommendations that are favorable for those who, through no fault of their own, disproportionally felt the pain caused by the Great Recession. The Institute seeks to use this data to support changes in public policy that will create paths towards economic self-sufficiency for Indiana’s working families.

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