Columbus continues to be one of the leading metropolitan statistical areas in the country in job growth, well ahead of state and national averages.
What’s surprising, however, is that the market’s ranking for personal income is lucky to compete with the national average. Urban issues expert Aaron Renn revealed that nugget during his March 2 keynote speech during the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting.
Chamber president Cindy Frey noted after the meeting that the data about personal income was a concern.
For a community which is often perceived as well off because of the presence of a Fortune 500 company, the news was a reality check.
So, what’s the problem?
It’s likely not that good-paying jobs don’t pay enough, as companies such as Cummins, NTN Driveshaft and Faurecia are global companies competing for the world’s best talent. More likely it’s that far too many adults still don’t have the education and experience to land mid-level jobs.
Consider as evidence that census data also shows that people living in poverty in Bartholomew County has been on the rise and income disparity is growing. Also, about 5,000 (44 percent) of the 11,575-student households in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. are eligible for free or reduced lunch prices. Many who work don’t have the education to land jobs that pay enough to sufficiently support themselves or a family without public assistance.
This makes the efforts of the organizations such as the Community Education Coalition, and its invested stakeholders, all the more crucial.
A person’s education level factors into many aspects of one’s well being and success. The data shows that the greater a person’s education level, the greater their quality of life will likely be.
The news shared about the Columbus area’s personal income should serve as a reminder that local initiatives to increase educational attainment — such as the Education Coalition and the iGrad mentoring program — need a collective effort and deserve continued support.