Salaries in Allen County – which for the past four years has lagged at about 82 percent of the national average – lost even more ground in 2012, according to John Stafford, who recently retired as director of IPFW's Community Research Institute.
“Things had stabilized, but we took a small step backward,” Stafford said Friday as he delivered his last quarterly economic report to the Allen County Commissioners. Average pay in Allen County last year was $39,803, which was an increase from $39,535 in 2011. Nationwide, however, the average increased even more, to $49,289.
Job statistics also presented a mixed message, he added. The county's June unemployment rate was 8.3 percent compared to the national average of 7.8 percent, but that was in part because 3,200 people entered the work force. The entry of people into the labor pool is considered an encouraging sign because it indicates they believe jobs are available, but it can also have an upward impact on the unemployment rate – which is why Stafford said such statistics should be viewed with caution.
Stafford, who is retiring after 40 years of service to IPFW, the city, county and other entities, also cautioned the commissioners about taking jobs for granted.
“I've observed that when we prosper, the tendency is to relax. We can't afford to do that,” he said.
In recognition of his service, the commissioners declared Friday “John Stafford Day” in Allen County.
In other business, the commissioners agreed to give Huntertown 10 acres on Lima Road for use as the town's new supply of drinking water. The county had given Huntertown a different 10 acres near the Byron Health Center in 2010, but that land proved unsuitable. So the county reclaimed its original donation and gave the town a different parcel that has plenty of water, town attorney Dave Hawk said.
And as The News-Sentinel reported in June, the county's parks system Friday also agreed to take over operations of the 107-acre Deer Run Wilderness Area on Indiana 101 near Spencerville, which had been owned by the Fort Wayne Community and Lincoln National foundations and made available to the county for youth programs.