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Unlucky #7: Indiana ranked in the top 10 poorest states to live and work

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Indiana secured the seventh position on CNBC’s list of the most economically challenged states to reside and be employed in.

The CNBC report gave Indiana a “D-” based on scoring 113 out of 350 possible points.

Key focal points of the report’s assessment include competitiveness of life, health and inclusion within states. The rising scarcity of workers on a national scale during 2023 has magnified the focal points of the CNBC report.

RELATED: Flashing beacon of inequity

Notably, infant care proved to be Indiana’s Achilles heel.

In 2021, the state grappled with formidable childcare challenges, with significant implications for its economic growth.

Last month, State Rep. Carey Hamilton (D) joined other lawmakers across the country at the White House to discuss state-level childcare policy.

“Affordable childcare strengthens families by freeing up income for needs such as quality food and secure housing, and it strengthens our economy by growing a critical component of our workforce – working parents,” said Hamilton.

The Hoosier state grapples with this challenge through its low number of licensed childcare facilities, which stands at less than 10 per 10,000 residents.

As a result, many families find it difficult to fully engage in the workforce. This statistic ranks Indiana second worst in the nation, trailing only behind Louisiana, according to advocacy group Child Care Aware.

According to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Indiana ranks mid-range for household income; however, the typical annual childcare expenses of $8,000 count toward 13% of the median household income.

This raises concerns about affordability.

Researchers from Indiana University and Early Learning Indiana highlighted the stark reality in 2018, uncovering that “inadequate” childcare costs the state a staggering $1.1 billion in lost economic activity each year.

Despite growing awareness of these issues, legislative efforts to boost childcare availability have encountered setbacks.

Indiana has a hate crime law – Senate Bill 198, signed by Gov. Holcomb in 2020 – which entitles workers to seek employment without being discriminated against on the basis of their disability, national origin, ancestry, race, color, religion, gender and their status as a veteran.

Moreover, when appointing the state’s first diversity officer, Karrah A. Herring, in 2020, Holcomb stated, “My goal is to better build diversity and foster an inclusive environment within state government and the services we provide so every Hoosier can take full advantage of their gifts and potential.”

However, the CNBC report also determined that the state’s legal protections against discrimination remain relatively limited.

Ultimately, the CNBC report cited Indiana as being weak in childcare and inclusiveness but having better crime rates than other states.

Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at 317-607-5792 or by email jadej@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON

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