“Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” bellows State Senator Puffy Stuffy. “Wages, Wages, Wages,” shouts State Representative Roberta Righteous.

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

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

“Now, Bobbie, consider who we represent,” the Senator pleads. “We in the General Assembly protect the Hoosier way of life. I’ve seen the list with California and New York at the top. They make movies and money. We make steel and soybeans.”

“Yeah,” says the Rep.

“Precisely,” says the Senator. “Manufacturing in Indiana has 76% of the Goods producing jobs in the state. Nationally, that figure is 57%.”

“Right,” says the Rep. “But we must be producing lower quality or less desirable products than they do in other states.”

“How dare you?” the Senator challenges with stentorian indignation.

“I’m just looking at the 2021 average wages of manufacturing workers in Indiana compared to those nationally,” replies the Rep. “A manufacturing job in Indiana averages $68,886, 10% below the national average of $76,580.”

“But, Bobbie, the cost of living….” the Senator is cut off.

“Oh, that old bit of hogwash,” laughs the Rep. “You should know by now the cost of living is dominated by the price and rent payments for homes. And those costs are determined by the wages of workers. Low wages, lower housing prices. High wages, higher housing prices. How many times must you hear that?”

“It could work the other way,” he says.

“In your dreams,” she says.

“Well, our state is branching out, diversifying, thinking out of the box,” the Senator affirms.

“Oh, like tourism as a way of bringing in more visitors to Toad Hop, Gnaw Bone and Birdseye?” asks the Rep. “Are you aware that Leisure and Hospitality jobs are among the lowest paid jobs in the United States, making about 60% less that the average private sector job?”

“That’s why we need more of them,” the Senator puffs. “Increase the demand and wages will rise.”

Representative Righteous ignores this and continues, “Puffy, here in Indiana, workers in that sector earn 21.4% less than their counterparts nationally. Want to hear something really funny? That’s better than local government workers (like teachers in our schools) do. They hold jobs that make 21.7% less than local government workers nationally.”

The Senator makes sounds 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 the Rep. “The horse does the work pulling the owners in the carriage.”

“Commie,” roars the Senator.
Morton J. Marcus is an economist formerly with the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. His column appears in Indiana newspapers, and his views can be followed his podcast.

© 2022 Morton J. Marcus