RICHMOND, Ind. — Wayne County residents and families lag behind other Hoosiers with their health and their wealth.
That's according to statistics included in the 2022 County Indicator Report from the Wayne County Foundation and Forward Wayne County. The report collects data regarding key community indicators from multiple sources into one place and shares it with the community.
“We are pleased to share this information with our partners, communities, and residents,” said Rebecca Gilliam, executive director for the Foundation, in a news release. “This report is not intended to be conclusive, but rather serve as a resource for information, grant applications, and more.”
Data gleaned from County Health Rankings at countyhealthrankings.org shows Wayne County ranks 87th among Indiana's 92 counties in health outcomes, which factors length of life and quality of life. Wayne County residents have a life expectancy of 72.9 years. That is 3½ years less than Hoosiers overall, and six years less than all Americans.
The county also ranks 77th in health factors, which considers health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. In Wayne County, 11.4% of people do not have health insurance, which is 42.5% higher than Indiana's overall average.
Wayne County's poverty level dropped one-10th of one percent. Still 15.1% of the county's 27,435 households live in poverty, when the state average is 11.6% and the national average 11.9%. Another 23.0% of county households are considered ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households, which means they earn more than the poverty level but less than the cost for living.
Combined, nearly four of 10 Wayne County households live in poverty or can't make ends meet.
Per capita income for Wayne County residents increased to $45,499; however, it still lags 19.0% behind the state average ($56,153) and 23.5% behind the national average ($59,510). The county's median household income of $47,756 is 18.0% behind Indiana's average ($58,235) and 26.5% behind the United States average ($64.994).
The report cites the county's unemployment rate at 2.9% and indicates that county employers are creating jobs with increased wages.
The county's top four employment sectors — health care and social assistance at 18%, manufacturing at 15%, government at 12% and retail trade at 11% — all pay average salaries less than the state average. In fact, of 20 employment sectors listed, only agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, which accounts for 3% of county employment, pays salaries higher than the state average.
The local health care industry accounting for 18% of county employment is 50% more than that sector's state employment percentage just less than 12%. Reid Health is Wayne County's largest employer, and it accounts for more than half of the jobs at the county's top five employers and for more than one-third the jobs at the top 15 employers.
In Wayne County, 87.7% of residents have at least a high school degree, and 29.4% have either an associate's degree (9.6%), a 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, with 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 has passed $100,000, but at $102,400 it trails the state median of $148,900 by 31.2% and the national median of $229,800 by 55.4%. The county has 74% of its homes worth less than $150,000 when the state average is 50.4%.
The report, however, indicates home ownership has increased 4%. Home ownership helps create wealth and increases stability for families and communities.
“Overall, we are doing well in certain areas, but it also shows we have some work to do as a county," said Acacia St. John, the program director for Forward Wayne County. "We remain committed with our partners to keep working on making Wayne County a great place to live, work, and play.”
This article originally appeared on Richmond Palladium-Item: Wayne County families face health and wealth challenges