It takes a bit more pay to support a family in Starke County than some of the surrounding areas.
That’s according to data in a report released by the Indiana Institute for Working Families. A team of researchers from the University of Washington helped develop the standard which attempts to define salary levels for residents to attain self-sufficiency.
According to the report, self-sufficiency includes paying for costs like housing, child care, food, transportation, and healthcare without receiving assistance. Starke County Economic Development Foundation Special Projects Coordinator Ron Gifford says daycare is an area Starke County tends to be out of line.
“We’re $300 to $400 to $500 more for someone who’s an adult with one preschooler,” says Gifford. “And that continues across the board no matter how many kids somebody might have. Our childcare costs, for some reason, seem to be way high compared to the other, neighboring counties.”
According to the 2016 report, the average cost of living between 2005 and 2016 has increased by 60-percent in the Hoosier state. Meanwhile, median earnings have only risen by 9-percent.
For a household with one adult and one child, Starke County was on the higher end in the state for self-sufficient earnings: requiring an hourly wage rate of $17.82 cents. That compares to $14.58 in Pulaski County and $14.53 per hour in Marshall County. The required wages change based on family composition.
Gifford says many of their grant funded programs are currently attempting to increase the wages paid to new workers in Starke County, but also incumbent workers.
“We’re looking to train some of those folks and give them some additional skills so they can move up and take higher paying jobs in that particular business which will also then give rise and a need for hiring additional people at the lower level,” says Gifford. “That’s what the grant that we just got for SCILL from OCRA is all about.”
Researchers who developed the report recommend wage increases alongside access to post-secondary education. Job training was also recommended as a way to increase earning power.
The Starke County Economic Development Foundation says it takes time to address some of these economic issues while being faced with demographic differences.