Indianapolis News and Headlines


As Carrier jobs saved, large swaths of Indy still plagued by joblessness

Posted at 6:44 PM, Nov 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-30 18:46:35-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- The news that Carrier would keep nearly 1,000 jobs in Indianapolis out of the 1,400 it planned to move to Mexico was met with joy this week – but for large parts of Indianapolis, the prospect of joblessness remained unchanged.

A new study commissioned by Renew Indianapolis and completed by Alan Mallach at the Center for Community Progress found that 120 out of 226 census tracts in Indianapolis have seen a decrease in employment since 2000 – some of them drastically.

The study used census data from 2000 and five-year estimates from 2010-2014 to look at poverty, household income, home value, employment and other factors in Indianapolis.

It found that, of those 120 census tracts that have seen a decrease in residents with primary jobs, 47 have had a decrease greater than 15%.

On the whole, Indianapolis has seen about a 0.3 percent decrease in labor force with primary jobs.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau and The Center for Community Progress

Compounding the issue: While Indianapolis added 38,000 new jobs between 2000-2014, it also lost 19,000 jobs actually held by residents of the city. That means 57,000 more commuters than in 2000.

"It's undermining the health of the neighborhoods where people live."

Taken altogether, the increase in commuters and decrease in employed city residents can have a destabilizing effect in Indianapolis neighborhoods, Mallach said.

"It's undermining the health of the neighborhoods where people live," he said. "The first thing is, you're seeing a lot of neighborhoods where the number of people holding jobs is declining in absolute numbers, period. The second thing is, you may see an increase in people holding jobs, but instead of being able to work close by, they have to work outside the county, which means greater cost and time to commute, these jobs are less stable, and a lot of these jobs don't pay as well because they're in shopping malls, assisted living, things like that. It's not as strong an economic base for a neighborhood as it would be if people could either get better jobs or jobs closer to home."

On a more positive note, 68 census tracts have bucked the trend and seen an increase in their employed labor force, with a little more than 30 seeing increases greater than 15 percent.

Downtown in particular has seen some of the biggest increases in employment. Fletcher Place, located on the southeast side of downtown and just west of Fountain Square, saw a 95-percent increase in employed residents over the study's time period.

It's also one of the few places in the city that saw median household income increase enough between 2000-2014 to keep up with inflation.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau and The Center for Community Progress

Mallach attributes that boost primarily to Millenials, who he says have flocked to downtowns across the country.

"The first thing is: What is driving the revival of areas in and around downtown is, more than anything else, is a significant upsurge in young people with college degrees who are moving to cities. The so-called Millenials," Mallach said. "It's real, it's powerful, and it's the single-largest factor, in my opinion, in driving the revitalization of downtowns."

He could be right: In August, real estate site Trulia pegged Indianapolis as the best city for young professionals to buy a home and start their careers.

At the same time, The New York Times reported last week on data from IPUMS-USA at the University of Minnesota showing that, on the whole, Indiana has had one of the worst rates in the nation of young college graduates leaving the state.

"There's been a tremendous shift in who has the jobs in Indianapolis."

At the end of the day, though, Mallach says Millenials aren't likely to make or break Indy's economy.

"Even though it's a very powerful economic change, it's not affecting a lot of areas outside of the core of the city," he said. "At the same time, what you're seeing in the rest of the city is a whole cluster of things that are undermining traditional single-family neighborhoods. There's been a tremendous shift in who has the jobs in Indianapolis. When you looking at these working class neighborhoods, there are a lot fewer people who have jobs, especially jobs in the city, than there used to be."

Jordan Fischer is RTV6's senior digital reporter. He covers crime, justice and the issues that affect Indianapolis' neighborhoods. Follow his reporting on Twitter @Jordan_RTV6 or on Facebook.