Commerce Region 8: East Central Indiana

The Area

Commerce Region 8 is comprised of six counties in east central Indiana: Blackford, Delaware, Henry, Jay, Randolph and Wayne. Delaware County forms the Muncie Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Other cities in the area include Richmond, New Castle, Hartford City and Portland.


Region 8 had 301,629 residents in 2000, declining 0.3 percent from 1990 figures. Of the 12 Commerce Regions, Region 8 alone had a declining population during the decade. Half of the counties in the area lost residents. Henry, Jay and Randolph counties were the exceptions, gaining a total of 916 people.
Delaware County accounted for 39.4 percent of the regional population. An additional 23.6 percent lived in Wayne County (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Industrial Mix and Jobs

Major employers in the area include 3-M, Anchor Glass Container, Ball State University, Borg-Warner Automotive, Cardinal Health System, DaimlerChrysler, First Merchants Corporation, Key Plastics, New Venture Gear, Saint Gobain, Union City Body and Workhorse Custom Chassis.

In 2000, the services industry made up the bulk of regional employment at 27.6 percent, followed by manufacturing with 20 percent. Retail trade was not far behind, accounting for 19.1 percent of the region's jobs.

Despite the lack of population growth, nonfarm employment increased 10.6 percent between 1990 and 2000. The largest percent increase occurred in transportation and public utilities with 25.6 percent (or 1,524 jobs). Following state and national trends, the services industry had the largest numeric increase of 8,903 (or 25.4 percent). Military employment declined 30.6 percent (or 477 lost jobs), while the manufacturing sector experienced closings and layoffs accounting for 1,468 lost jobs (a 4.4 percent decline).

The recent bankruptcies and shutdowns in 2002 have caused problems for the area. Notable closings include Indiana Glass in Dunkirk, Burlington Motor Carriers and Transcom USA in Daleville, and Teleservices Direct and Indiana Steel & Wire in Muncie.

Three of the five closings occurred at year's end, so the effects of the closings did not show up in last year's data. Nevertheless, Region 8 had consistently higher unemployment rates than nine of the other Commerce Regions throughout 2002.

On the positive side, Autocar LLC is moving its world headquarters and truck manufacturing plant into Hagerstown and the $77 million addition to NC-M Chassis Systems (formerly New Castle Machining and Forge) should open by the end of the first quarter. Also in the works is a $4.17 million expansion of Milso Industries in Richmond that would create 55 to 60 new jobs, while Stealth Boat Company in New Castle is looking to expand by 150 to 200 employees within the next three years.

Income and Wages

In 2000, per capita personal income was $24,244 for the region; that's $2,689 less than the state average of $26,933. Table 1 shows the quarterly wages for the first quarter of 2001 (please note that the data in this table are segmented into the new NAICS classifications instead of the more familiar SIC codes). While the average weekly wage in Region 8 was $544, the most well paid sector was utilities with an average of $1,181. It is not surprising that those employed in accommodation and food services received the lowest wages both regionally and statewide.

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Table 1

In each of the 20 divisions, wages per job were lower in East Central Indiana than in the state. The largest difference occurred in management of companies and enterprises, where employees in Region 8 earn $6,800 less a quarter (or $523 less each week).
Additional data is available at:

Rachel Justis
IN Context Managing Editor, Indiana Business Research Center, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University