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As Indiana politicians tout tech manufacturing, Ball State’s economist says it’s better for state economy

By Stephanie Wiechmann, IPR News | Published on in Business, Economy, Government, Local News
Ball State economist Michael Hicks (left) listens to U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN). (Stephanie Wiechmann / IPR News)

U.S. Senator Todd Young is pleased to see Indiana embracing more tech manufacturing, like a new semiconductor plant in southwest Indiana.  As IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, a Ball State University economist says that manufacturing is also better for the state’s economy.

It’s no secret that Indiana is the most manufacturing-heavy state economy in the country and that a state that relies on the demand for goods is more volatile.

That’s why Todd Young is championing bringing more versatile manufacturing to Indiana with a federal investment act he co-sponsored.  Like a microchip “packaging” facility in Daviess County.

“Packaging will allow the stacking of these microchips on top of one another,” he said while speaking at Ball State University’s annual economic outlook.  “Very few people can do it, and even fewer can do it well.  We’re going to do it well here in the state of Indiana.”

Read More from 2019: Ball State Economist: Educated Workforce Is The Answer, Not Focusing On Manufacturing

Ball State economist Michael Hicks says goods like microchips and semiconductors that can be used in many more applications than, for example, cars or RVs, will help Indiana’s economy become more productive and more stable.

“The other thing is they pay a lot better.  They anticipate you had a bachelor’s degree or near a bachelor’s degree.  But they pay $100,00 – $130,000 a year for line jobs, and that’s a very different type of manufacturing than I think most Hoosiers have in their heads.”

Hicks says Indiana won’t see manufacturing job growth, though.  It will see these new jobs replace more of Indiana’s historic factory positions.

Read More: Remote workers dominate Indiana’s labor force

The economic forecast

(Graphic: Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research)

In Hicks’s forecast, he does not predict a recession through 2025, but classifies it using the economic term “soft landing.”  He says job growth will slow, since there aren’t enough workers ready to enter the workforce for the available open jobs and low state unemployment.

Hicks also says “all economic forecasts are wrong.”  This one could upend if there’s what Hicks terms a “global shock.”  That includes international incidents like a war in Yemen, Russia defeating Ukraine, or an invasion of Poland.

Stephanie Wiechmann is our Managing Editor and “All Things Considered” Host.  Contact her at slwiechmann@bsu.edu.