As I sifted through yet another month of Indiana and Clay County unemployment data, I couldn't help but feel the optimism.
Data shows the unemployment rate has been on a near steady decline since the recession of 2008. The state's Department of Workforce Development boasts about more jobs and its ability to keep more of its people employed than the national average.
But, my optimism fades when I begin to look around neighborhoods and talk to people in Clay and surrounding counties. It seems people are still struggling to make ends meet.
So, how can this be? All of these jobs available and yet many still struggle.
Could it be that many of these jobs available pay just a little more than minimum wage?
For those of us even in the middle class, imagine how hard it would be to raise children on two incomes of $9 or $10 an hour, or less. Being extra frugal would not be a choice but a necessity.
Indiana finds itself 38th among the nation's 50 states in per capita income at $24,635, and those numbers are much closer to the bottom than the top of that list, according to data from the 2009-13 American Community Survey.
The numbers also don't tell the story of Clay County. According to that data, the county ranked 65th out of 92 in per capita income at $20,569, with nearly all southwestern Indiana counties in the bottom third.
That same data shows Brazil's per capita income is just over $16,000.
The numbers paint a difficult picture whether you believe they hold water or not. Sure people are working, but the results for some aren't in their paychecks.
So, if you find yourself struggling to get by, it might be time for you to make the first move to better yourself. Life is too short to count on others to do it for you.