Native Americans, who lived in Indiana before the growth of white settlement, combined farming of corn, squash, and beans with hunting and with gathering of forest products. During the early days of French settlement in the Indiana country, in the 17th and 18th centuries, fur trapping, fur trading, and farming were the principal economic activities. With the beginning of large-scale pioneer settlement early in the 19th century, farming developed as the predominant activity. Manufacturing industries were already in operation on a small scale in Indiana by 1860, producing farm machinery and tools for the settlers, and processing pork for shipment originally down the Wabash and Ohio rivers and later by rail to the populous east. The Ohio River and its tributaries served as the state’s major trade route until the development of railroads beginning in the 1850s.
A feverish period of canal building succeeded in connecting the state’s major waterways by the late 1840s, but the canal trade was soon eclipsed by the railroads. By the end of the 19th century agriculture had become more mechanized and productive, and manufacturing and mining had also become major sources of income for Indianans. In the following decades, manufacturing in Indiana continued to expand in volume and diversity of output. West central areas of the state, rich in clay deposits, specialized in drainage tiles for the low-lying northern farming areas. Steel-making expanded rapidly in the first and second decades of the 20th century, particular in Gary and other centers in northwestern Indiana. Much of the state’s industrial expansion was subsequently tied to the growing automobile industry. The state now has a highly diversified industrial base, continuing in steel refining, tool-making, and metal working, but with increasing reliance on the manufacture of petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals.
Indiana had a work force of 3,040,000 in 2008. The largest share of them, 31 percent, were employed in the diverse services sector, doing such jobs as providing legal assistance or working in restaurants. Another 20 percent were employed in wholesale or retail trade; 18 percent in manufacturing; 14 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those in the military; 14 percent in finance, insurance, and real estate; 5 percent in construction; 20 percent in transportation or public utilities; 2 percent in farming (including agricultural services), forestry, or fishing; and just 0.2 percent in mining. In 2007, 12 percent of Indiana’s workers were unionized. "Indiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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