Several indicators illustrated that economic activity in the Richmond region (1) continued to improve, although the momentum in 2018 was not as high as the year before. Total income and per capita income increased by a bigger percentage. The unemployment rate was down a little bit. Wage rates grew less than last year, but the growth rate was still in-line with the national rates. The housing market demonstrated a similar growth pattern as both home sales and median sales price increased at a lower rate. The IU East Regional Business Confidence Index, computed from the responses to the 2018 East-Central Indiana Business Survey, did not increase as much this year as last year. The corresponding Expectation Sub-Index in fact dropped in value. This could be a warning sign for the year ahead.
The total personal income of Wayne County and the region continued their upward trends in 2016 and stayed above their trend lines (see Figure 1), signifying a continuing improvement in the economic activity and living standard in both the county and the region.
Figure 2 confirms a similar pattern in per capita personal income (PCPI). According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Wayne County's total personal income was $2.5 billion in 2016, up by 3.6 percent from the 2015 level, and ranked 27 th in the state. Wayne County's PCPI in 2016 was $37,624, showing an increase of 4.3 percent and ranking 57th in the state.
In 2016, both Wayne County and Randolph County had higher PCPIs than the regional average, although still below the state and national level (see Figure 3). Wayne County's PCPI was ranked second in the region after Randolph County whose PCPI was $38,378. The region was underperforming Indiana and the nation in PCPI in 2016 by 15.2 percent and 25.8 percent, respectively.
The average size of the labor force dropped slightly in Wayne County (-0.4 percent) and the region (-0.2 percent) for the first eight months in 2018 (see Figure 4 and Figure 5). Wayne County's August 2018 labor force was made up of 30,752 people, representing 39 percent of the region's labor force of 78,052 people for the same time period.
Both the Wayne County and the regional unemployment rates had leveled out at around 4 percent over the summer (June through August 2018). They stayed close to the national rate, but were still slightly above the state rate by about half a percentage point (see Figure 6). Wayne County's average unemployment rate for the first eight months in 2018 (3.7 percent) was marginally lower than that of 2017 (4.0 percent).
Jobs and wages
Wayne County saw an aggregate increase of 347 jobs in the first quarter of 2018, representing 71 percent of the total increase in the region (see Table 1). The loss in government jobs (-63) in Wayne County was much more than made up for by the job gain in the private sectors (+410). The sector that had the highest job increase was health care and social services (+368), followed by manufacturing (+220), construction (+144) and administrative, support and waste management (+61). On the other hand, the sector that lost the most jobs was transportation and warehousing (-145), seconded by accommodation and food services (-101).
The average weekly wage for all jobs in Wayne County increased by 3 percent in the first quarter of 2018 as compared with the same period of 2017 (see Table 2). This increase was higher than the region (2.7 percent), but lower than the state's growth (3.9 percent). The private sector experienced a little higher pay raise, 3.3 percent for both Wayne County and the region, close to the national pay raise of 3.8 percent. The greatest percent increase in average wages in Wayne County was found in educational services (15.9 percent), followed by utilities (11.7 percent) and construction (10.9 percent). Despite increasing by more than 5 percent at the state level, employees in real estate, rental and leasing (-15.6 percent) and management of companies and enterprises (-12.2 percent) had a significant cut in average incomes locally.
The number of new single-family building permits (10) issued in...