Earlier this month, county officials got a look at a wage and benefit survey for Henry and seven other counties.

The New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) partnered with other counties in the East Central Indiana region to conduct a wage and benefit survey.

Collectively, this group of counties is the East Central Indiana Regional Partnership (ECIRP).

The Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) conducted the confidential survey of 165 employers in the region throughout August 2022. Survey questions included topics like total number of employees, types of benefits and ranges of wages.

Dr. Roberto Gallardo of Purdue University prepared the ECIRP Wage and Benefit Analysis in October 2022.

Most of the responses (37.4 percent) came from Delaware County. Wayne County businesses provided 22.7 percent of the responses, followed by 9.8 percent from Randolph County.

Henry County employers accounted for 8.0 percent of the respondents, Jay County had 7.4 percent and Blackford County was at 6.7 percent. Rush County businesses gave 4.9 percent of the responses and Grant County contributed 3.1 percent of the data.

Jobs and wages

Gallardo explained that the 165 businesses surveyed reported having 12,605 employees in 114 different jobs.

The majority of those employees (10,337, or 82 percent) are hourly workers, compared to the 2,268 (18 percent) salaried employees.

Just over a third of the business (38.8 percent) reported having between 1 and 20 full-time employees. At the same time, almost three-quarters of the surveyed employers (73.7 percent) reported having between 1 and 20 part-time employees.

Among those companies in the eight-county area that responded, the majority of jobs reported (43.6 percent) belonged to the production worker category, followed by 23.7 percent in healthcare and 6.7 percent in facility and machine maintenance.

The other reported categories were:

• Logistics (4.8 percent)
• Business Office (4.2 percent)
• General Operations Management (3.9 percent)
• Finance (3.4 percent)
• Food Service (2.3 percent)
• Education (1.9 percent)
• Other Specialties (1.5 percent)
• Quality Assurance (1.5 percent)
• Human Resources (1.1 percent)
• Computer & Information Technology (1.0 percent)
• Advertising and Public Relations (0.5 percent)
• Healthcare employees in the region carried the highest percentage of hourly employees (99.8 percent), followed by food service workers (93.1 percent).

Other specialties, such as compliance specialist, mechanical engineer or safety director, had the highest percentage of salaried positions (86.8 percent). Education was next with 81.6 percent salaried workers.

The Wage and  Benefit Analysis also looked at average (mean) hourly wages.

The mean average adds up all the wages for each category and then divides them by the number of total wages.

To do this, Purdue listed "average actual wages," then the average wage for each category (the "average average wage") and then the highest wages for the categories.

Overall, the "average actual wage" among the surveyed East Central Indiana businesses was $25.57 and the "average average wage" was $29.46. The "average highest wage" was $32.12.

Food Service had the lowest average wages in the region, while Other Specialties had the highest.

Gallardo also provided The Courier-Times with the median average wages for the region.

A median average is determined by listing every wage in order and then finding the number in the middle of that list. Finding the median average tells you that half of the other wages are below that number and half of them are above that number.

According to the Purdue survey, the median average wage in ECIRP is $25.69, slightly higher than the mean average wage of $25.57.

The lowest actual wages in the region go to dietary aides, who are paid an average of $12 per hour. Dietary aides also had the lowest "average highest wage" at $14.69.

Corporate counsel in the region make, on average, $108.04 per hour at the low end and $116.68 on the high end. These are the highest average hourly wages for both categories.

Remote work, childcare

The Purdue Center for Regional Development also asked respondents other questions about benefits and their workplace environment. Two categories of particular interest to Henry County were remote work flexibility and childcare benefits.

Henry County is currently participating in Indiana's MakeMyMove program to entice remote workers to move into the area.

According to the PCRD survey, more than half (51.3 percent) of regional companies do not offer remote work flexibility. About two of every five local companies surveyed (38.1 percent) offer some sort of remote work for less than half of their employees. The remaining 10.6 percent of those surveyed offer remote work flexibility for more than half of their workers.

Of the 106 responding local employers, 86.8 percent thought rising healthcare costs were a moderate to high concern in terms of the regional workforce.

The major impacts childcare availability had on respondents included absenteeism, employee retention and hiring. The report also noted that 30 of the employers who answered the childcare questions said childcare availability does not impact their business.

Considering benefits for full and part-time employees, very few of the surveyed businesses offer childcare stipends or on-site childcare for their workers.

© Copyright 2023, The Courier-Times, New Castle, IN.