Hoosiers feeling pinch despite state surplus


Indiana is saving the cash from $93 million budget surplus and $86 million more in cash reserves. But many Indiana families aren't feeling they have extra money.

Poverty rates for Indiana children have increased. Nearly 46 percent of Indiana children are now considered low income. Unemployment in Indiana has been above the national average for 11 months in a row.

Dental hygienist Nicole Montiel had hoped to stay home with her children, two-year-old Juliana and baby Jonas, but the economy won't let her do that.

"I need to go back to work so we can survive. I don't think the economy is back to where it needs to be, definitely," Montiel said.

Her husband's general contractor business is not back to where it was before the recession, so when she heard the governor touting the state's $1.9 billion, surplus it rang kind of hollow.

"It definitely feels hollow. I'd like to have some of that to be able to raise my family," Montiel said.

"We have really seen this last decade as the lost decade for Hoosier working families," said Derek Thomas, Indiana Institute for Working Families.

According to a recent study by the Indiana Institute for Working Families, unemployment has remained above the national average for 11 straight months. The median hourly wage in Indiana, at $15.24, is below all of our neighbors, except Kentucky.

Thomas says the jobs that are on the increase in Indiana are low-wage jobs. In fact, 24 percent of those jobs pay below the poverty line.

"You might be surprised to know that the poverty level is greater in Indianapolis than Chicago," Thomas said.

So while Indiana might have more money in the bank than all of our neighbors, most on the street are making do with less and making big decisions because of it.

"I'd like to see some of that trickle down to the little folks like us," Montiel said.

But for now, she just wants to enjoy the time she has with her little ones.

Status of working families in Indiana 2012