IU Public Policy Institute graduate assistants detail poverty findings during SPEA event

January 15, 2013

On January 15, 2013, Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) hosted a panel discussion on poverty. Panelists included:

  • SPEA Dean John Graham
  • Tavis Smiley, PBS host and IU SPEA alum
  • Andy Frazier, Director of the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development
  • James Taylor, CEO of the John H. Boner Community Center

SPEA graduate students Michael J. Marsala and Jennifer N. Rice, who research at the IU Public Policy Institute, were selected to detail the trends and state of poverty in Indiana today. Their presentations highlighted the following:


• Per capita personal income in Indiana decreased from 2000-2010 making Indiana one of three states in the Midwest region that declined during this time, and placing Indiana ahead of only Michigan in the change regionally. Furthermore, per capita personal income earned in Indiana was $34,208 in 2010, placing Indiana last regionally.

• Shifting the focus to the Indianapolis-Carmel MSA shows that of the 10 counties in the MSA, only Boone, Morgan, and Putnam counties experienced positive growth from 2000-2010. Boone County is now the wealthiest county in central Indiana, and Putnam County, although it did experience an increase, still had the lowest per capita income ($30,347) of the counties in central Indiana.

• Another telling economic indicator is the change in employment by industry. For years the manufacturing and construction industries have provided Hoosiers with stable jobs and steady incomes. The manufacturing sector experienced the most significant loss in employment with over 12,000 jobs lost during the five-year span between 2001 and 2007. Construction, retail trade, wholesale trade, and administrative and waste services, round out the top five industries most negatively impacted by the economic downturn, with over 20,000 additional jobs lost in Marion County.

• Lower incomes, unemployment, and a shift in demand for labor have left many Indiana citizens more reliant on public safety net programs, such as Medicaid and Food Stamps (SNAP). Medicaid enrollment among the entire population of Marion County increased by 16% from 2007-2011. During that same time, enrollment among full-time employees increased by 24%.

• SNAP enrollment increased in Marion County a total of 203% from 2000-2010. The percent increase of the surrounding MSA counties, excluding Marion County, is 342% indicating a significantly higher increase in SNAP participation in the surrounding counties.

For more information about SPEA's poverty panel, visit http://spea.iupui.edu/.

Photo: Tavis Smiley, PBS host and IU SPEA Alum (far right) and SPEA graduate students Michael J. Marsala and Jennifer N. Rice recently participated in a panel discussion on poverty.