Eighty-four hours a week. That is the number of hours needed to work at Indiana’s minimum wage, $7.25 per hour, to afford a two bedroom rental. The cost of living in Indiana has risen 60 percent in the last 10 years while wages have grown only nine percent during the same period. All Hoosiers deserve an opportunity to earn a living wage. No one should have to decide between paying the rent or buying groceries. A living wage will benefit everyone by reducing the poverty level in our state, saving taxpayers money as dependence on government programs decreases, and fueling economic growth by increasing individuals’ spending power. The time is now for all Hoosiers to have the opportunity at a better life.
There are good jobs available in Indiana, but there is a shortage of qualified workers to fill these positions. In the manufacturing sector alone, some businesses report finding only 1 in 10 qualified applicants. One way to address this issue is to increase the availability of trade school programs. Students should be given the option to attend trade school programs during high school or incentivized to attend trade programs upon graduation. We need to offer training to those Hoosiers who may be unemployed or lacking the necessary skills to qualify for open positions. We also need to provide opportunities for training in our jails and prisons so that non-violent offenders are given the tools necessary to integrate successfully back into society.