Indiana Leader Pushes for More High-paying Jobs

Jun 3, 2014

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says Indiana isn’t doing enough to ensure that jobs being created in  the state are high-paying ones. 

A recent study from the Indiana Institute for Working Families says Indiana has the highest percent  growth of what it calls “low-wage” jobs of any of its neighboring states. Low wage jobs are those whose  median annual salary is below the federal poverty level, about $23,000 a year for a family  of four. 

The number of low-wage jobs increased by about 12 percent in 2012, the most recent year  examined by the study. 27 percent of all jobs in the state can be considered low-wage.

House Minority  Leader Scott Pelath says that’s because Republican leaders in the legislature and the governor’s office  have focused too much on helping big business, rather than the middle-class.

“We have added jobs here in recent months but they are jobs that are worse than the jobs that that  people used to have," says Pelath. What matters is not numbers, it’s whether people perceive if they’re prospering or  not; whether they think their lives are getting better.” 

But Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee Chair Brandt Hershman says the state can’t dismiss jobs that  don’t necessarily pay higher wages, either. Still, he says Indiana is focused on key areas for high wage  job growth.

“You try and increase the skill set so your existing workforce can compete for higher wage jobs, help your  student population get the skill set necessary for the more advanced jobs of today, Hershman says, "and you try and get more people employed because it helps push wage rates up.” 

Pelath says reducing Indiana’s income gap won’t happen overnight but, like Hershman, noted that  improving the readiness of the state’s workforce is a critical task.