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NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: Per capita personal income growth pushing toward NE Indiana goals

There is good economic news in northeast Indiana, and it indicates continuing progress toward a goal that is designed to support local business, build our community and market our region to the world.

That is the mission of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, which is dedicated to increasing business investment in Allen, Adams, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties.

Northeast Indiana grew in per capita personal income at 4.73 percent from 2017 to 2018, representing a nearly 40 percent increase over the 3.38 percent growth the year before, according to a Nov. 15 NIRP news release. The numbers were released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which showed the national PCPI increased in the same period at a rate of 4.94 percent.

PCPI is calculated as the total income received divided by the total population. Northeast Indiana’s regional economic developers use PCPI as an economic indicator, the NIRP explains, “because it provides a historical regional trend that displays a consistent and comprehensive look at personal income with a national benchmark. In addition to wages, per capita personal income captures investments, entitlements like Social Security and other forms of income.”

While the 2018 growth in northeast Indiana was a significant increase over the previous year, it equates to only 82.2 percent of the national average. The Regional Partnership says one of its goals in its quest to grow the regional economy and compete in the global marketplace is to increase northeast Indiana’s PCPI to 90 percent of the national average by 2030.

Increases such as the 40 percent for 2018 may make that goal attainable.

The upshot of the increase for 2018 is that more than $35 billion of total personal income circulated in the region’s 11 counties that year, according to the NIRP. That was an increase of nearly $1.8 billion of total personal income compared to 2017 — an increase of $2,021 in PCPI.

John Sampson, president and CEO of the NIRP, put the current numbers in perspective:

“Northeast Indiana’s 2018 PCPI growth rate, accelerating well above the 2017 rate, is clearly good news,” he said in the news release. “Several counties in the region showed very strong gains above national rates. We are growing faster than Indiana’s overall rate and yet, have fallen short of national trends. The future of our region depends on our success in attracting and retaining a skilled workforce to meet the needs of regional employers, and raising regional prosperity against national trends is a key factor. Working together as a region, we must remain focused on our goals and strive to increase business investment in our 11-county region.”

The region’s average PCPI increased from $42,752 in 2017 to $44,773 in 2018. Allen County increased 4.77 percent from $44,182 To $46,288 during that period. The biggest increase was Steuben County at 7.53% ($40,203-$43,231), while the smallest was LaGrange County at 2.36 percent ($41,176-$42,146).

Rachel Blakeman, director of Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne, said that while northeast Indiana’s 2018 economic performance was impressive, it was not unique to the region.

“National incomes rose at a slightly faster rate,” she said, “and the disparity between the actual dollars PCPI represents nationally and regionally limits our ability to attract the high-skill talent we need most.”

Still, News-Sentinel.com is encouraged by the fact, as the NIRP explained in its news release, that its Vision 2030 initiative goals match those of Indiana’s Office of Career Connections and Talent.

In June, the Regional Partnership reported, more than 200 multi-sector partners from the region’s 11 counties committed “to work across geographic lines to grow the population, increase educational attainment and raise household income as Indiana’s first designated 21st Century Talent Region.

We laud the NIPR’s leadership in helping cultivate 21st Century talent and striving to reach the PCPI goal of 90% against the national average by 2030 to make northeast Indiana one of the nation’s most prosperous regions.

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