Indiana 7th in dependency on export


“Don’t you dare!” Myrtle (my Muse) cautioned. “Back in mid-March you wrote about exports from Indiana and other states. Never have so many read so little before skipping so fast to the comics.”

“But it’s different now,” I insisted in defense of my choice for this week’s column. “The trade war, if there is one, is heating up. Folks want to know what impact it will have.”

Myrtle paid no attention. She had made up her mind and strawberry shortcakes warranted her consideration at this moment.

“Well, I’m doing it,” I declared as if I were a World War I doughboy going over the embankment out into no-man’s-land despite the machine guns’ persistent ratatat-ratatat.

“Exports from Indiana accounted for 10.5 percent of our 2017 Gross Domestic Product” I said aloud while writing. “That means we ranked as the seventh most dependent state in the nation on exports to fuel our economy. Only Michigan among the Great Lakes states ranked higher in sixth place and 11.8 percent.”

“Hmm,” Myrtle acknowledged, reaching for a second shortcake and eyeing the bourbon balls.

“Now, we’re not able to say much at the metropolitan area level because, while we have export numbers for 2017, we don’t have GDP as yet for that year,” I said.

“Must be tough on all the number nerds,” Myrtle said.

“Well, all is not lost,” I confided. “We do have 2016 data. And there we find that the Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson metro area had a dependency on exports of just 7.1 percent of GDP.”

“That’s surprising,” Myrtle surprised me by paying attention to what I was saying.

“Yes,” I responded. “We’d imagine Indianapolis and vicinity as the most internationally connected metro area in the state, but it falls short of the rest of the state because so much manufacturing and farming is present elsewhere in Indiana.”

“And there’s another factor,” Myrtle said. “You can’t forget the export of services from Indiana. We have Purdue, Indiana, Notre Dame and several other colleges with many foreign students. That could be a significant element in the export picture for Indiana.”

I’ll admit I was stunned. Although she had whipped crème on her lips from some puffy pastry, Myrtle was actually inspiring me just as a muse is expected to do.

“You think about it,’ Myrtle continued, “We really don’t know much about our exports or our imports. For example, how much money is spent on the Indianapolis 500 by people from other countries? We’re familiar with our domestic beer-bellies, but how many perfectly decent fans come from outside the U.S. with credit-laden cards to watch 33 vehicles go around that oval in Speedway?”

“And let’s not forget,” I added, “the feds won’t break out our Northwest Indiana figures from the rest of all those exports subsumed under the Chicago metro area.”

But it was for naught. Myrtle had spotted the eclairs.

Morton Marcus is an economist. Send comments to [email protected]

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