RICHMOND, Ind. – Residents and families of Wayne County lag behind other Hoosiers in health and wealth.
That’s according to statistics included in the 2022 County Indicators Report from the Wayne County Foundation and Forward Wayne County. The report collects data regarding key community indicators from multiple sources in one place and shares it with the community.
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“We are pleased to share this information with our partners, communities and residents,” Rebecca Gilliam, the Foundation’s chief executive, said in a press release. “This report is not intended to be conclusive, but rather to serve as a source of information, grant applications, etc.”
Data taken from County Health Rankings at countyhealthrankings.org shows that Wayne County ranks 87th among Indiana’s 92 counties in health outcomes, which takes into account length and quality of life. Residents of Wayne County have a life expectancy of 72.9 years. That’s 3½ years younger than Hoosiers overall, and six years younger than all Americans.
The county also ranks 77th in health factors, which consider health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment. In Wayne County, 11.4% of residents do not have health insurance, which is 42.5% higher than the overall Indiana average.
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Wayne County’s poverty level dropped a tenth of one percent. Yet 15.1% of the county’s 27,435 households live in poverty, compared to the state average of 11.6% and the national average of 11.9%. Another 23.0% of households in the county are considered ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households, meaning they earn more than the poverty line but less than the cost of living.
Combined, nearly four in ten Wayne County households live in poverty or can’t make ends meet.
The per capita income of Wayne County residents rose to $45,499; however, it still trails the state average by 19.0% ($56,153) and the national average by 23.5% ($59,510). The county’s median household income of $47,756 is 18.0% lower than the Indiana average ($58,235) and 26.5% lower than the United States average ($64,994).
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The report cites the county’s unemployment rate at 2.9% and says county employers are creating jobs with increased wages.
The county’s four major employment sectors — health care and social assistance at 18%, manufacturing at 15%, government at 12%, and retail at 11% — all pay average wages below the state average . Indeed, of 20 employment sectors listed, only agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, which account for 3% of county employment, pay wages above the state average.
The local healthcare industry which accounts for 18% of county employment is 50% higher than the state’s employment percentage of this sector, just under 12%. Reid Health is Wayne County’s largest employer, accounting for more than half of the jobs in the county’s top five employers and more than one-third of the jobs in the top 15 employers.
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In Wayne County, 87.7% of residents have at least a high school diploma and 29.4% have either an associate’s degree (9.6%), bachelor’s degree (12.0%) or a graduate degree (7.8%). Overall in Indiana, 89.4% of residents have at least a high school diploma, 48.3% having at least an associate’s degree, and 27.0% having at least a bachelor’s degree.
The median home value in Wayne County topped $100,000, but at $102,400 is 31.2% below the state median of $148,900 and 55.4% below the median national $229,800. The county has 74% of its homes worth less than $150,000 while the state average is 50.4%.
However, the report indicates that homeownership increased by 4%. Home ownership helps create wealth and increases the stability of families and communities.
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“Overall, we’re doing well in some areas, but it also shows we have work to do as a county,” said Acacia St. John, program manager for Forward Wayne County. “We remain committed with our partners to continue working to make Wayne County a better place to live, work and play.