Morton Marcus: Wages, not just jobs

“Jobs, jobs, jobs,” roars State Senator Puffy Stuffy. “Wages, wages, wages,” screams state MP Roberta Righteous.

“It’s like the Sinatra song ‘Love and Marriage, you can’t have one without the other,'” Stuffy replies.

“What world do you live in?” asks the just. “Indiana has 2.1% of US jobs and 1.7% of wages. Only two other states have a larger negative difference in these numbers. Simply put, Puffy, we’re 48th in the nation.”

“Now, Bobbie, think about who we represent,” Stuffy asks. “We in the General Assembly protect the Hoosier way of life. I saw the list with California and New York at the top. They make movies and money. We make steel and soybeans.”

“Yes,” says Gerechter.

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“Exactly,” says Stuffy. “Indiana’s manufacturing sector accounts for 76% of the state’s manufacturing jobs. Nationwide it is 57%.”

“Right,” says Gerechter. “But we have to produce products of lower quality or less desirable than in other states.”

“How dare you?” Stifling challenges with vociferous outrage.

“I’m just looking at the 2021 average wages of Indiana manufacturing workers versus the statewide,” Righteous replies. “A manufacturing job in Indiana costs an average of $68,886, 10% below the national average of $76,580.”

“But, Bobbie, the cost of living…” Stuffy says before being interrupted.

“Oh, that old crap,” laughs Righteous. “You should know by now that the cost of living is dominated by home prices and rent payments. And these costs are determined by workers’ wages. Low wages, lower house prices. High wages, higher real estate prices. How often do you have to hear that?”

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“It could be different,” he says.

“In your dreams,” she says.

“Well, our state is branching out, diversifying, and thinking outside the box,” Stuffy affirms.

“Oh, how tourism to bring more visitors to Toad Hop, Gnaw Bone and Birdseye?” asks Gerechter. “Do you know that recreational and hospitality jobs are some of the lowest paying jobs in the United States, accounting for about 60% less than the average private sector job?”

“That’s why we need more of this,” snorts Stuffy. “Increase demand and wages will increase.”

Righteous ignores this and continues: “Puffy, here in Indiana workers in this sector make 21.4% less than their counterparts in the country. Want to hear something really funny? This is better than local government employees (like teachers in our schools) do. They have jobs that pay 21.7% less than local government employees nationally.”

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Stuffy makes noises that cannot be reproduced in print. Then he says, “But remember, jobs must precede wages, ‘they go together like a horse and carriage.'”

“Right,” says Gerechter. “The horse does the work and pulls the owners in the carriage.”

“Commie,” Stuffy yells.

Morton Marcus is an economist. Follow him and John Guy on Who Gets What? wherever podcasts are available or at Send comments to [email protected]

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