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Despite High Manufacturing Score, Economist Warns Trade War May Trigger Downturn

The 2019 Manufacturing Scorecard puts Indiana among the top five states for manufacturing and logistics. Indiana continues to show success in areas including global reach and tax climate where other states are struggling.

However, economists warn the state’s success could have a down side with the ongoing trade war. Ball State economist Michael Hicks says the state’s strengths in manufacturing make it vulnerable to a downturn going into and through 2020 due to tariffs.

“Indiana because we’re the most manufacturing intensive state, both in employment and in GDP, are going to be the very first states to feel the pain,” says Hicks.

He adds with the growth in automation, Hoosiers need to get college and advanced degrees to avoid workforce shortages in the state in 21st Century manufacturing jobs. Hicks says the state is struggling to bring people with college degrees into the manufacturing industry.

“We’re a legacy manufacturing state, so we have a long history making things here,” says Hicks. “And we ought to be proud of that, but we’re not generating the workforce that’s really ready and able to do modern manufacturing.”

He says the state needs to invest more to support students getting four-year degrees, something he feels the governor and lawmakers are not doing.

Contact Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5