An Indiana University professor said Bloomington’s poverty rate is “worrisomely high” and the recent pace of wage growth, which has not kept up with the state average and inflation, should give community leaders pause.

“Bloomington’s falling behind where we want to be,” said Phil T. Powell, clinical associate professor of business economics and public policy at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

In the first five months of the year, workers in the Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area received average hourly wages of $23.85, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was up $1.54 or 6.9% compared to a year earlier. That lagged the state growth, $2.24, by about 19%.

While Bloomington’s wages rose much faster than some other Indiana metro areas, including Columbus (3%) and Terre Haute (4.2%), they also remained behind the wage growth experienced by Hoosiers elsewhere, such as in Evansville (7.9%), Fort Wayne (8.9%) and the Louisville metro area (9.4%) which includes parts of southern Indiana.

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A spokesman for the administration of Mayor John Hamilton said via email “average weekly wages in the Bloomington (metro area) have accelerated over the past two to three years tracking in line with the state and national growth trends.”

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