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Tim Vandenack
Tim Vandenack
In Indiana Buzz, reporter Tim Vandenack blogs on politics, immigration, elections, taxes, errant geese and more.



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Manufacturing jobs in Elkhart County are rebounding, somewhat, but they're paying slightly less, BLS numbers indicate

The number of people holding top managerial posts is on the rise, as well, and they’re also getting more.

Posted on June 20, 2014 at 3:50 p.m.

Friday June 20, 2014

The number of people working manufacturing and production jobs in Elkhart County is down. Their wages are down, too.

The number of people holding the top spots in business — chief executives and managers — is up. They’re getting paid more, too.

As I dig into local economic figures for a coming package of stories related to the five-year anniversary of the end of the Great Recession, those are some takeaways from Bureau of Labor Statistics figures that track employment and wages by sector. A caveat — BLS officials warn businesses surveyed from year to year to get the numbers can vary, which can figure in wage variations from year to year.

Consider these details (and scroll down for tables with yet more data):

Factory jobs: There were 46,510 people working in manufacturing jobs in 2006 at the base level — workers, not company brass or managers. That fell to 28,120 in 2009 before rebounding, partially, to 38,830 in 2013. The sector easily accounts for the largest chunk of workers in the county, 35.7 percent of the total in 2006 and 33.9 percent in 2013.

Pay for factory jobs: Manufacturing jobs paid an annual average wage of $30,620 in 2006 and that actually edged up going into 2009 to $34,040 before dipping to $29,630 in 2013, according to the BLS data. Those wage numbers are averages, remember, not indicative of trends at every company.

Not enough pay to cover the bills: The two sets of numbers jibe with contentions I keep hearing from food bank operators. They say, yes, more and more people are returning to work as the Great Recession recedes in the rear-view mirror, but they’re earning less. The pay, for some, isn’t enough to cover the bills and they rely on food banks to complement their earnings.

Top company brass getting more: The numbers holding chief executive and managerial positions in Elkhart County went from 4,530 in 2006, before the recession hit, to 4,790 in 2013. Their average earnings also increased in the period, from $83,320 to $93,160.

Looking at the numbers below, BLS’ Occupational Employment Statistics, you’ll notice they show a larger overall number of workers in Elkhart County than the monthly unemployment tallies from the agency (look here). That’s because of different methodology used in gathering the two sets of data. Regardless, the employment trends in each are similar.

Now for some numbers.

Here’s a look at the overall labor force in Elkhart County in recent years and the numbers in manufacturing, which accounts for the single biggest bloc of workers here:

Here’s a look at the evolving labor force in other key sectors in Elkhart County:

Now here’s a peek at who’s earning what:

Stay tuned for more.

Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack or visit him on Facebook.




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