(UNDATED) - Because jobs and economic development continue to be top issues of Hoosier interest, I find it important as your state senator to keep you updated on these topics.
Indiana's unemployment rate at the end of August was 8.7 percent. That's 0.2 percent higher than July's rate, but lower than the 10 percent unemployment we saw last August. While Indiana's unemployment rate is still far higher than anyone (myself included) would like to see, I think it's worth noting that we remain better than all surrounding states and the national average of 9.1 percent. (Illinois: 9.9 percent; Kentucky: 9.5 percent; Michigan: 11.2 percent; Ohio: 9.1 percent).
Likewise, most of our area's county unemployment rates were lower than the national average:
• Bartholomew County: 7.3 percent;
• Brown County: 7.7 percent;
• Jackson County: 8.1 percent;
• Lawrence County: 10.6 percent; and
• Monroe County: 7.3 percent.
A bigger-picture measure of economic health - gross domestic product (GDP) - shows Indiana has made big strides. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Indiana had the third highest GDP growth in the country in 2010, increasing 4.6 percent, compared to the national rate of 2.6 percent.
Accolades from the business community back up such statistics, as Indiana continues to be recognized for its pro-growth economic environment. The Hoosier state ranks first in the Midwest and sixth in the nation in Chief Executive magazine's annual survey of best states for business, published this May. Indiana also ranks fifth overall and first for rail and highway accessibility in Area Development magazine's "Top States for Doing Business" study, which came out in September.
Despite Standard & Poor's recent move to downgrade the federal government's credit rating, Indiana has maintained its AAA rating from all three major rating agencies (Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investor Service and Fitch Ratings) thanks to state leaders' commitment to fiscal responsibility. This provides a tangible benefit to taxpayers by allowing Indiana to save millions of dollars each year on interest, which keeps more money in taxpayers' pocketbooks.
While these are all positive developments, state leaders recognize Indiana's economic challenges have not ended. With nearly 274,000 Hoosiers out of work, we know the battle to keep Indiana families afloat continues.
That's why state legislators continue to look for ways to improve the Hoosier economy. While government doesn't really create jobs, it can help create a pro-growth environment for job creation.
Of course, so much of what happens at the state level depends on decisions made by members of Congress and the White House.
I fear that, no matter what happens, our national debt will eventually be the cancer that kills the patient. Every day we wake up and the federal government spends $4 billion more than it takes in. We cannot keep this up. Before former Sen. Evan Bayh left the U.S. Senate, he got on TV and said the spending was totally "unsustainable." He was exactly right.
I watch some of the people recently marching on Wall Street and they want and they want and they want. Nobody ever asks them who will pay the bill. These are the kids that grew up playing soccer, t-ball and biddy basketball, where nobody won and nobody lost. In fact, nobody kept score. Everyone got a trophy, and they grew up thinking life would somehow be the same way. Well, that trophy cost somebody money, and America needs a reality check soon or it won't make any difference what Congress or the White House does.
I encourage you to contact me now and throughout the upcoming session, if you have concerns or ideas regarding Indiana's economy:
State Sen. Brent Steele
200 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
As your state legislator, it's my goal to work in you and your family's best interest by representing your views at the Statehouse.
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