Indianapolis is preparing to celebrate its 200th birthday or anniversary. But Indianapolis isn’t that village invented by the General Assembly on the banks of the White River. Fifty years ago, Indianapolis took an important step forward establishing Unigov. It was an imperfect consolidation of governmental units which has remained virtually unchanged for half a century.

Today’s real Indianapolis is a composite of nine counties with a host of cities and towns, most of them remnants of pastoral villages, each battling to be “something.”

Today, the Mayor of Indianapolis speaks of regionalism. His is a genteel appeal to overturn inequities, either created or endorsed by the Indiana General Assembly, that home of irrational and irresponsible 18th century sentimentality.

Eight counties serve as satellites of Marion County — Boone, Hamilton, Madison, Hancock, Shelby, Johnson, Morgan, and Hendricks. (Note: I do not call them parasites as would some central-city chauvinists.)

Unlike celestial satellites, these counties have extensive and diverse interactions with their host planet other than gravity alone. Commuting to work in Marion County is only the most prominent of these interactions which include shopping, health care, entertainment, and other services.

Even as these satellite counties grow and develop, Marion County is overwhelmingly important with nearly half of the metro’s population in 2017, contributing almost a third of its population growth 2007 to 2017.

Marion County accounted for 58 percent of all 2017 jobs in the metro area and 24 percent of the job growth 2007 to 2017. Of greater significance, Marion County had 67 percent of the earnings provided by those jobs in 2017 and 63 percent of the growth in earnings over the decade.

What does that tell us? Simply, Marion’s jobs pay better than jobs in the satellite counties. With 58 percent of the jobs, Marion County contributed 67 percent of metro earnings. Plus, despite just a quarter of the growth in jobs, Marion County provided nearly two-thirds of the growth in earnings by metro workers and proprietors.

Perhaps more readily understood, the average job in Marion County paid $74,500 while the next highest average job was in Hamilton County at $59,800. The increase in average earnings from 2007 to 2017 in Marion County was 39 percent or $20,700; none of the other eight counties saw an increase greater than Hancock’s 28 percent or Hamilton’s $12,800.

The essence of regionalism is recognizing and respecting interdependency. This is not happening in the Indianapolis metro area. Satellite counties persist in their opposition to a regionwide transit system which could establish new connections among communities as well facilitating commutes and an efficient integration of other services. They will not work together for their common betterment.

Shortsighted, fool-hardy? Will citizens throughout Indiana vote for the future in the forthcoming municipal elections or continue to support narcissistic and environmentally destructive sprawl? When will they ever learn?

Mr. Marcus is an economist. Reach him at mortonjmarcus@yahoo.com. Follow his views and those of John Guy on “Who gets what?” wherever podcasts are available or at mortonjohn.libsyn.com

Data for the nine-county Indianapolis Metropolitan Area

Population Share

County 2007 2017 Change Percent Change Percent of Change 2007 2017

Metro Area 1,773,052 1,975,877 202,825 11.4% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

Boone 53,778 65,875 12,097 22.5% 6.0% 3.0% 3.3%

Hamilton 253,725 323,747 70,022 27.6% 34.5% 14.3% 16.4%

Hancock 67,115 74,985 7,870 11.7% 3.9% 3.8% 3.8%

Hendricks 137,267 163,685 26,418 19.2% 13.0% 7.7% 8.3%

Johnson 133,933 153,897 19,964 14.9% 9.8% 7.6% 7.8%

Madison 131,203 129,498 (1,705) -1.3% -0.8% 7.4% 6.6%

Marion 883,591 950,082 66,491 7.5% 32.8% 49.8% 48.1%

Morgan 68,354 69,713 1,359 2.0% 0.7% 3.9% 3.5%

Shelby 44,086 44,395 309 0.7% 0.2% 2.5% 2.2%

Jobs Share

County 2007 2017 Change Percent Change Percent of Change 2007 2017

Metro Area 1,153,169 1,294,409 141,240 12.2% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

Boone 28,158 41,128 12,970 46.1% 9.2% 2.4% 3.2%

Hamilton 154,994 203,246 48,252 31.1% 34.2% 13.4% 15.7%

Hancock 29,858 33,695 3,837 12.9% 2.7% 2.6% 2.6%

Hendricks 63,475 91,466 27,991 44.1% 19.8% 5.5% 7.1%

Johnson 61,414 73,713 12,299 20.0% 8.7% 5.3% 5.7%

Madison 54,455 53,479 (976) -1.8% -0.7% 4.7% 4.1%

Marion 714,552 748,535 33,983 4.8% 24.1% 62.0% 57.8%

Morgan 23,605 24,893 1,288 5.5% 0.9% 2.0% 1.9%

Shelby 22,658 24,254 1,596 7.0% 1.1% 2.0% 1.9%

Earnings by place of work ($000)* Share

County 2007 2017 Change Percent Change Percent of Change 2007 2017

Metro Area 55,827,807 83,175,738 27,347,931 49.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

Boone 1,056,993 1,925,042 868,049 82.1% 3.2% 1.9% 2.3%

Hamilton 7,272,790 12,147,325 4,874,535 67.0% 17.8% 13.0% 14.6%

Hancock 1,113,322 1,604,724 491,402 44.1% 1.8% 2.0% 1.9%

Hendricks 2,283,434 4,031,391 1,747,957 76.5% 6.4% 4.1% 4.8%

Johnson 2,098,957 3,208,578 1,109,621 52.9% 4.1% 3.8% 3.9%

Madison 1,970,489 2,326,980 356,491 18.1% 1.3% 3.5% 2.8%

Marion 38,376,106 55,731,062 17,354,956 45.2% 63.5% 68.7% 67.0%

Morgan 783,105 1,026,389 243,284 31.1% 0.9% 1.4% 1.2%

Shelby 872,611 1,174,247 301,636 34.6% 1.1% 1.6% 1.4%

* Not adjusted for inflation

Earnings per Job*

County 2007 2017 Change Percent Change

Metro Area 48,413 64,258 15,845 32.7%

Boone 37,538 46,806 9,268 24.7%

Hamilton 46,923 59,767 12,844 27.4%

Hancock 37,287 47,625 10,338 27.7%

Hendricks 35,974 44,075 8,102 22.5%

Johnson 34,177 43,528 9,351 27.4%

Madison 36,186 43,512 7,326 20.2%

Marion 53,707 74,454 20,747 38.6%

Morgan 33,175 41,232 8,057 24.3%

Shelby 38,512 48,415 9,902 25.7%

* Not adjusted for inflation

Data source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

Prepared by Morton J. Marcus

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