97 years of economic insights for Indiana

The IBR is a publication of the Indiana Business Research Center at IU's Kelley School of Business

Muncie forecast 2023

Author photo

Director of Research, Center for Business and Economic Research, Ball State University

Author photo

Research Assistant, Center for Business and Economic Research, Ball State University

During 2022, the Muncie metro continued to recover from the business closures and shutdowns that occurred during the height of the pandemic. The pandemic interrupted the small gains in employment and income that had been made over the previous years as the Muncie metro recovered from the Great Recession and various structural changes to the local economy related to dramatic decreases in manufacturing employment over the past several decades. Positive gains in employment and income were evident during 2022, but the level of employment is still lower than pre-pandemic levels.

Highlights from 2022’s business news included new businesses moving to sites around Muncie. Living Green Farm, specializing in aeroponic farming, opened a facility in a shell building that had been vacant since 2014.1 Filtrec, an Italian filter maker, opened a production facility and moved its North American headquarters to Delaware County.2 A Gillman Home Center store (hardware and building materials) opened during September on the southside of Muncie. The CanPack Group, a manufacturer of aluminum beverage cans, continued construction of an 862,000 square-foot facility in the southside industrial park.3 BrickRed Systems, an IT consulting firm based in Redmond, Washington, purchased the former, mostly vacant Southway Plaza shopping center and plans to operate a facility there.4

This article uses the most recent data available (at the time of this writing) from public sources on various measures of economic activity for the Muncie MSA (Delaware County) to analyze changes over the past year. A summary of the labor market forecast for the Muncie area is included in the conclusion.

Labor markets

The Muncie metro area experienced low unemployment rates over the last year with several months coming in below 3%. The labor force, which consists of employed persons along with persons actively looking for work, is finally approaching pre-pandemic levels and grew from 51,714 to 53,241 during this period (September 2021 to September 2022). Before the pandemic, Muncie’s labor force topped 54,000 in 2019. With an increased labor force post pandemic and the high number of current job openings, we expect the unemployment rate to remain low, between 3% and 4% during the coming year, even as the macroeconomy adjusts to higher interest rates and the likelihood of recession.

Table 1: Labor force and unemployment in the Muncie metro

Year Month Labor force Unemployment Unemployment rate
2021 September 51,714 1,645 3.2
October 51,620 1,464 2.8
November 51,848 1,265 2.4
December 51,484 855 1.7
2022 January 51,692 1,383 2.7
February 52,690 1,569 3.0
March 52,731 1,628 3.1
April 52,923 1,316 2.5
May 52,720 1,524 2.9
June 52,784 1,963 3.7
July 53,144 2,147 4.0
August  52,980  1,811 3.4
September 53,241 1,257 2.4

Note: Not seasonally adjusted
Source: STATS Indiana, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Employment by industry was measured using January-to-August averages for each year. No single industry saw a decline in employment from 2021 to 2022 (see Table 2). The number of jobs increased by a total of 1,288 jobs, or 2.7%, over this period. The four industries that saw the greatest percentage gains in employment were leisure and hospitality (6.9%); trade, transportation and utilities (2.9%); financial services (2.8%); and other services (2.8%). Industries experiencing the slowest growth were manufacturing (1.8%); private educational and health services (1.5%); government (1.4%); and information (0.0%). Even with the continued growth of employment across industries, there is still an abundance of posted jobs ready to be filled. Retail trade, a subsector of trade, transportation and utilities, showed employment increases for the second year in a row as the economy recovered from pandemic closures.

Table 2: Year-to-date Muncie MSA employment by industry

Industry 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 Change
since
2021
Percent
change,
2021-2022
Total nonfarm 50,100 49,713 46,900 47,600 48,888 1,288 2.7%
Total private 38,238 38,538 36,200 36,638 37,775 1,137 3.1%
Goods-producing 5,825 5,863 5,075 5,075 5,113 38 0.7%
Manufacturing 4,188 4,113 3,450 3,500 3,563 63 1.8%
Private sector-providing 32,413 32,675 31,125 31,563 32,663 1,100 3.5%
Trade, transportation and utilities 8,688 8,550 8,075 8,125 8,363 238 2.9%
Retail trade 6,312 6,137 5,725 5,800 5,975 175 3.0%
Information 300 300 300 300 300 -   0.0%
Financial activities 2,300 2,300 2,238 2,238 2,300 63 2.8%
Private educational and health services 9,138 9,075 9,200 9,313 9,450 138 1.5%
Leisure and hospitality 5,163 5,350 4,675 4,913 5,250 337 6.9%
Other services 1,825 1,888 1,775 1,763 1,813 50 2.8%
Private service-providing-residual 5,825 5,863 5,075 5,075 5,112 37 0.7%
Government (includes public schools) 11,863 11,175 10,700 10,963 11,113 150 1.4%

Note: All data are January through August averages.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics

Average weekly wages in Muncie have continued to increase reaching $911 per week, a 9.5% nominal increase over the past year (see Table 3). A total of 13 industries saw an increase in weekly wages, the largest being health care and social services (24.0%) followed by wholesale trade (17.3%). Five industries experienced a decline in wages, the largest being finance and insurance (-14.7%) and utilities (-4.6%).

Using the Midwest consumer price index, the inflation rate from the first quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022 was 8.14%, much higher than previous years when the inflation rate was under 2%. Overall, eight of the 18 industries seen below had wage growth higher than the inflation rate and, therefore, experienced real wage increases.

Table 3: Average weekly wages in Muncie MSA 

Industry 2021
Q1
2022
Q1
Change Percent
change
Total $832 $911 $79 9.5%
Management of companies and enterprises $2,348 $2,304 -$44 -1.9%
Wholesale trade $1,165 $1,367 $202 17.3%
Construction $929 $958 $29 3.1%
Public administration $849 $972 $123 14.5%
Real estate and rental and leasing $678 $743 $65 9.6%
Other services (except public administration) $570 $609 $39 6.8%
Arts, entertainment and recreation $372 $356 -$16 -4.3%
Accomodation and food services $310 $336 $26 8.4%
Health care and social services $959 $1,189 $230 24.0%
Manufacturing $971 $1,029 $58 6.0%
Transportation and warehousing $896 $955 $59 6.6%
Administrative, support, waste management and remediation $728 $803 $75 10.3%
Retail trade $561 $648 $87 15.5%
Finance and insurance $1,388 $1,184 -$204 -14.7%
Professional, scientific and technical services $1,036 $1,132 $96 9.3%
Educational services $909 $930 $21 2.3%
Utilities $2,141 $2,043 -$98 -4.6%
Information $900 $893 -$7 -0.8%

Source: STATS Indiana, using Indiana Department of Workforce Development data

Housing

Looking at census data, 177 residential building permits were issued in the Muncie metro through August 2022. 171 of them were single-family units and six were multifamily units (see Table 4). This is the highest number of housing permits issued since 2004. This dramatic increase in housing permits mirrors national trends over this period when mortgage rates were at historic lows.

Table 4: Muncie MSA year-to-date residential building permits

Year Total Single-family Multi-family
2004 200 154 46
2005 122 115 7
2006 94 79 15
2007 87 73 14
2008 47 43 4
2009 21 21 0
2010 25 23 2
2011 53 43 10
2012 47 42 5
2013 22 22 0
2014 69 25 44
2015 3 3 0
2016 25 15 10
2017 10 6 4
2018 10 10 0
2019 21 21 0
2020 69 14 55
2021 18 18 0
2022 177 171 6

Note: Each year is based on January through August totals.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Looking at single-family home sales in the Muncie metro, the number of units sold was lower during 2022 (see Table 5). Although fewer units were sold over this period, the average number of days on the market has drastically decreased since 2016. The Muncie metro also saw increases in both the average sales price as well as the median sales price for units sold. The average sales price increased from $151,257 in 2021 to $165,637 in 2022, while the median sales price increased from $125,100 to $139,000 over the same period. These indicators suggest that the housing market is experiencing high demand with relatively low supply of housing compared to earlier years. More recently, demand is decreasing in response to higher interest rates, which will put downward pressure on prices over the coming year.

Table 5: Residential real estate sales in Delaware County

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Units sold 860 851 862 901 976 1,047 927
Average days on market 68 59 51 56 50 26 20
Average sales price $106,438 $106,635 $118,788 $117,466 $132,750 $151,257 $165,637
Median sales price $85,000 $88,000 $92,400 $99,500 $116,300 $125,100 $139,000

Note: Includes residential, site-built homes only sold through the MLS. Each year is based on January through September totals.
Source: Indiana Regional Multiple Listing Service (MLS)

Social safety net

From the fall of 2021 to the spring of 2022, food stamp payments in the Muncie metro steadily increased from $3.3 million to $3.5 million, until the summer of 2022 when food stamp payments drastically declined reaching $2.3 million during September (see Table 6). Although the total food stamps issued from September 2021 to September 2022 has decreased by 28.5%, the number of households that are receiving food stamps has increased by 0.7% over the same period. More people are using this social service, but receiving smaller payments than previously issued, which aligns with higher labor force participation as discussed earlier.

Table 6: Food stamp recipients in Delaware County, September 2021 through September 2022 

Year Month Total food stamps issued Number of households receiving food stamps Number of food stamp recipients Food stamps average per household Food stamps average per recipient
 2021 September $3,324,284 7,011 14,059 $474.15 $236.45
October $3,255,519 6,929 13,950 $469.84 $233.37
November $3,373,887 6,799 13,500 $469.23 $249.92
December $3,386,570 6,746 13,437 $502.01 $252.03
2022 January $3,409,843 6,735 13,438 $506.29 $253.75
February $3,471,020 6,881 13,724 $504.44 $252.92
March $3,524,641 6,980 13,959 $504.96 $252.50
April $3,502,364 7,031 14,033 $498.13 $249.58
May $3,511,964 7,061 14,068 $497.37 $249.64
June $2,437,927 7,114 14,217 $342.69 $171.48
July $2,368,425 7,122 14,179 $332.55 $167.04
August $2,393,544 7,124 14,157 $335.98 $169.07
September $2,376,337 7,057 14,009 $336.73 $169.63

Source: STATS Indiana, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration data

Outlook

The indicators presented in this analysis show that the Muncie metro is recovering from the pandemic recession. Labor force participation has increased over the past year, unemployment has decreased and the number of total food stamps has decreased. Employment has increased particularly in sectors like leisure and hospitality, financial activities and retail that were hit hard by the pandemic. Several industry sectors, including health care and social services, have experienced real (inflation-adjusted) wage gains. The housing indicators are consistent with a hot housing market that is likely to cool over the coming year as interest rate increases filter through the economy.

The Indiana University Center for Econometric Model Research’s forecast shows employment growth of 1.9% in the Muncie MSA over the next two years as the metro continues to recover from the pandemic, while income is projected to increase 4.5% during 2023.5 Population will continue to show a slow decline with a projected 0.25% annual decrease during 2023.

Notes

  1. D. Penticuff. “Indoor farm at former Delaware County-owned shell building to be hiring and producing bagged salad soon,” Muncie Star Press, March 11, 2022.
  2. D. Penticuff. “Italian filter maker Filtrec chooses Delaware County to expand, locate its headquarters,” Muncie Star Press, July 6, 2022.
  3. “Canpack celebrates construction milestone of the second U.S.-based manufacturing facility,” Business Update, June 8, 2022, https://www.canpack.com/news/canpack-celebrates-constrution-milestone-of-the-secondbrus-based-manufacturing-facility/ .
  4. D. Penticuff. “Tax abatement granted by Muncie for Markets on Madison; some tenants in place as work begins,” Muncie Star Press, July 6, 2022.
  5. Forecasts come from the Indiana University Center for Econometric Model Research (https://ibrc.kelley.iu.edu/analysis/cemr/), September 2022.