Governing posts Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing job growth over the past twelve months in all fifty states. Without counting North Dakota's dangerous and poorly regulated Bakken job boom, South Dakota is slogging along in the middle among its neighbors:

State Job Change Oct 2013–Oct 2014 Average Monthly Change %Job Change Oct 2013–Oct 2014 Nonfarm Jobs Oct 2014
Iowa 15,400 1,283 1.0 1,556,900
Minnesota 49,400 4,117 1.8 2,847,000
Montana 6,800 567 1.5 455,100
Nebraska 8,300 692 0.8 991,800
North Dakota 22,500 1,875 5.0 471,700
South Dakota 6,000 500 1.4 422,700
Wyoming 6,200 517 2.1 298,100

To reinforce the point I made Friday, Minnesota has more progressive economic and fiscal policies, yet it is outpacing South Dakota on percentages for job growth.

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Independent-Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is awfully popular among progressives. He may run for President in 2016. Our modern Eugene V. Debs tells NPR that Democrats could get their traction back by rediscovering the working class:

...people look out and they say, "Gee, the wealthiest people are doing phenomenally well." And where are the Democrats? Do people see the Democratic Party standing up to Wall Street? Any of these guys going to jail? Not really. The average person is working longer hours, lower wages, and they do not see any political party standing up and fighting for their rights. What they see is a Republican Party becoming extremely right wing, controlled by folks like the Koch brothers. But they do not see a party representing the working class of this country [Bernie Sanders, interview with Steve Inskeep, "Sen. Bernie Sanders on How Democrats Lost White Votes," NPR: It's All Politics, 2014.11.19].

Senator Sanders sounds an awful lot like our own Rick Weiland. Does that make Weiland a socialist... or just the right man to lead the South Dakota Democratic Party back to its mission and electoral success?

Senator Sanders recommends the sort of socialism that South Dakotans of both parties love—big federal investment in infrastructure:

...whether you're white or black or Hispanic or Asian, if you are in the working class, you are struggling to keep your heads above water. You're worried about your kids. What should the Democratic Party be talking about, Steve? What they should be talking about is a massive federal jobs program. There was once a time when our nation's infrastructure — roads, bridges, water systems, rail — were the envy of the world. Today that's no longer the case [Sanders, 2014.11.19].

Roads, bridges, water systems—we could be building real public goods that would put millions of Americans to work and serve the national interest, but a majority of Senators in the pocket of Big Oil think it's more important to authorize a private foreign oil pipeline that would hurt the U.S. economy and the working class.

Senator Sanders likely won't derail the Clinton nomination. But his exhortation to working-class politics could point Rick Weiland and South Dakota Democrats the route toward votes in 2016.

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My readers at South Dakota Magazine may not think minimum wage workers deserve any consideration, but fortunately, the are in the minority. Thanks to the good sense of 55% of South Dakota voters, minimum wage workers will get a raise on January 1, from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour.

But what about all the jobs ALEC says we're going to lose? South Dakota's going to end up a wreck like Minnesota, where they raised the minimum wage even more this summer, right?

On August 1, Minnesota hiked its minimum wage for small employers from $5.25 to $6.50 an hour and for large employers from $6.15 to $8.00. Those are hikes of 24% and 30%, respectively. South Dakota's upcoming increase is 17%.

Let's look at what has happened to employment in Minnesota since then, with some numbers from the whole past year for context:

Month Labor Force Jobs Unemployed Unemployment
rate
2013-07 2,969,376 2,818,339 151,037 5.1
2013-08 2,968,353 2,819,609 148,744 5.0
2013-09 2,968,482 2,822,623 145,859 4.9
2013-10 2,970,349 2,826,633 143,716 4.8
2013-11 2,965,982 2,828,347 137,635 4.6
2013-12 2,971,572 2,834,248 137,324 4.6
2014-01 2,985,354 2,843,982 141,372 4.7
2014-02 2,995,127 2,850,755 144,372 4.8
2014-03 3,002,431 2,856,843 145,588 4.8
2014-04 3,001,998 2,860,415 141,583 4.7
2014-05 2,999,601 2,860,560 139,041 4.6
2014-06 2,995,361 2,859,447 135,914 4.5
2014-07 2,987,768 2,854,409 133,359 4.5
2014-08 2,981,147 2,852,956 128,191 4.3
2014-09 2,983,397 2,860,969 122,428 4.1
2014-10 2,988,155 2,871,566 116,589 3.9
Source: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Three months after imposing a higher relative increase in costs on minimum-wage employers than South Dakota's increase will, Minnesota has 17,157 more jobs. Unemployment ticked down two tenths of a percentage point in August, in September, and again in October.

The last three months continue a steady upward economic trend in Minnesota that has taken place under a strong regime of Democratonomics that the Republicans are acknowledging they probably aren't going to overturn with their new State House majority.

Minimum wage goes up; job growth hums along. Minimum wage decriers, cry away.

54 comments

I love South Dakota. I love ladies. So why doesn't South Dakota love ladies?

Never mind the syllogistic stretch; check out why 24/7 Wall Street says South Dakota is the seventh-worst state in the Union for women:

Median earnings for women in South Dakota were roughly 75% the earnings of their male counterparts in 2013, one of the lower rates in the country. The lower earnings may be due to the relatively small percentage of women in management occupations. As of 2013, slightly more than 31% of workers in managerial roles were women, well below the national rate of 39.2%. Working women in South Dakota cannot take paid time off to care for sick family members or tend to their own health or pregnancy. Moreover, South Dakota has not begun to implement the expansion of Medicaid benefits allowed under the Affordable Care Act. With women accounting for nearly 55% of all state residents living below the poverty line in 2012, expanding Medicaid benefits would likely improve the living conditions for women [Thomas C. Frohlich, Alexander Kent, and Alexander E.M. Hess, "The 10 Worst States for Women," 24/Wall Street, 2014.10.16].

I love South Dakota. I want to say good things about South Dakota. But candidates like Mike Rounds and Dennis Daugaard are claiming they deserve your vote because they've done good things for South Dakota, when in fact they have only left in place a political and economic system that denies a huge majority of moms (and dads!) the opportunity to leave one parent at home to raise their kids, then hurls those women into an oppressive business regime that excludes them from lucrative positions of power.

Women, you appear to have your doubts about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Susan Wismer. You should harbor even greater doubts about the economic status quo in which the Republicans vest their interests. Check your pocketbooks, and vote accordingly.

15 comments

TransCanada has put in motion the official process to renew its expired construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. On Monday, the Canadian pipeliner asked the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission to recertify its project.

While TransCanada and its dupes peddle their inflated jobs numbers, let's look at the original arguments the coaxed the PUC to approve the project in 2010. The PUC's Amended Final Decision greenlighting Keystone XL included the following findings of fact on the purpose of and demand for the project:

14. The purpose of the Project is to transport incremental crude oil production from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin ("WCSB") to meet growing demand by refineries and markets in the United States ("U.S."). This supply will serve to replace U.S. reliance on less stable and less reliable sources of offshore crude oil.

24. The transport of additional crude oil production from the WCSB is necessary to meet growing demand by refineries and markets in the U.S. The need for the project is dictated by a number of factors, including increasing WCSB crude oil supply combined with insufficient export pipeline capacity; increasing crude oil demand in the U.S. and decreasing domestic crude supply; the opportunity to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign off-shore oil through increased access to stable, secure Canadian crude oil supplies; and binding shipper commitments to utilize the Keystone Pipeline Project.

25. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration ("EIA"), U.S. demand for petroleum products has increased by over 11 percent or 2,000,000 bpd over the past 10 years and is expected to increase further. The EIA estimates that total U.S. petroleum consumption will increases by approximately 10 million [sic] bpd over the next 10 years, representing average demand growth of about 100,000 [sic] bpd per year (EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2008).

26. At the same time, domestic U.S. crude oil supplies continue to decline. For example, over the past 10 years, domestic crude production in the United States has declined at an average rate of about 135,000 bpd per year, or 2% per year.... Crude and refined petroleum product imports into the U.S. have increased by over 3.3 million bpd over the past 10 years. In 2007, the U.S. imported over 13.4 million bpd of crude oil and petroleum products or over 60 percent of total U.S. petroleum product consumption. Canada is currently the largest supplier of imported crude oil and refined products to the U.S., supplying over 2.4 million bpd in 2007, representing over 11 percent of total U.S. petroleum product consumption (EIA 2007) [South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, Amended Final Decision and Order, TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline application, 2010.06.29].

First let us note that Finding of Fact #14 is not fact. TransCanada is not seeking to ship more oil to the U.S. Keystone XL will ship more oil through the U.S. to the international market, raising our gasoline prices in the process.

Besides, TransCanada can't count on the U.S. market, because we are using less oil. Let's look at new EIA data and projections showing the significant changes in the oil market in the four years since the PUC issued its findings:

U.S. demand for petroleum is no longer increasing. U.S. demand for petroleum peaked in 2007, which appears to be the final year the PUC considered in formulating its economic analysis. Petroleum demand plunged during the recession. The EIA projects U.S. petroleum use will remain flat over the next 25 years.

EIA AEO 2014-primary energy use by fuel 1980-2040

EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2014, p. MT-6

EIA projects U.S. crude oil consumption will decrease 0.1% a year through 2040 (see EIA AEO 2014, p. A-1).

U.S. domestic crude production is no longer declining. U.S. production troughed at about the same time U.S. consumption peaked. Booming oil production on the Bakken and elsewhere has erased the preceding twenty-year decline and will likely remain above the previous 1990 peak through 2040.

EIA AEO 2014 - U.S. Crude Oil Production 1990-2040

EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2014, p. MT-27

The EIA projects domestic crude oil and lease condensate energy production will increase 0.5% a year through 2040 (see EIA AEO 2014, p. A-1).

U.S. petroleum imports are no longer increasing. Same arc: increase to the mid-2000s, followed by a dramatic decrease thanks to recession- and conservation-driven reductions in consumption and Bakken-frackin' production increases. In the best-case scenario, the U.S. is a net exporter by the mid-2030s. Worst-case, our imports return to a bit above current levels, still less than 50%.

EIA AEO 2014 - Net import share of US petro-liquids 1990-2040

EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2014, p. MT-29

The EIA projects that U.S. crude oil imports will decrease 0.2% a year through 2040 (see EIA AEO 2014, p. A-1).

TransCanada does not have to make an economic case to the Public Utilities Commission. The pipeliners' burden of proof consists mostly of showing that they'll follow the rules and not kill anybody.

But if Commissioners Hanson, Nelson, and Fiegen are going to include economic and energy security justifications in their discussion of the merits of Keystone XL, they'll want to revisit the oil market and consider the significant changes that have taken place in U.S. oil consumption, production, and imports since the PUC issued TransCanada its initial permit.

5 comments

Ignored along with low wages in Governor Dennis Daugaard's Workforce Summits: Indians. With thousands of Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people on South Dakota's reservations shut out of South Dakota's workforce, the Governor held none of his six Workforce Summits in reservation towns, and the Workforce Summit report does not mention American Indians or reservations.

Enter Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls). The Republican legislator got brief mention at the bottom of one article about the Workforce Summit report, saying he thinks the Governor could do more to address workforce issues in the state's poorest areas. But the state's poorest areas don't vote or donate Republican, so don't expect much if any of the Governor's latest one million dollars of corporate welfare to go toward the reservations.

Into this glaring policy gap, Rep. Hickey throws the first draft of his SD TRADE plan, a proposal to include our Indian neighbors in the Governor's South Dakota WINS economic development program:

SD T.R.A.D.E.
South Dakota Tribal Resource and Development Exchange
Rep. Steve Hickey, SD-District 9.

SD TRADE is a proposed sub-initiative within the SD WINS workforce initiative.

As SD WINS seeks state “cross-collaboration” with communities and businesses, SD TRADE seeks state cross-collaboration with tribes and industry.

SD TRADE looks at the sober unemployment realities on our reservations not as a problem but as an opportunity.

SD TRADE seeks to create a perpetual jobs pipeline across South Dakota bring economic opportunity, development and prosperity to desperately impoverished areas in our state.

DEFINITIONS

Trade:

  1. The exchange of jobs and services
  2. A skilled job

SD TRADE employs both aspects of this definition exchanging land for skilled jobs.

Trade Center:

  1. A central location for commerce and industry
  2. A hub for job opportunity

REALITIES

South Dakota industries need workers to move into the state. South Dakota Indians need employment opportunities in the state.

South Dakota celebrates a low unemployment rate only because tribal unemployment statistics are excluded. The real unemployment rate in South Dakota which include tribal unemployment are much more dire.

How many potentially employable natives are on reservations without access to job opportunities? 10,000? Most certainly more.

Industries are not tapping into this available labor force on reservations for a variety of reasons, first and foremost of which are things like sovereignty issues and complication legal and tax uncertainties.

If our best minds can navigate through the complexities, obstacles and challenges to build a hundred clinics overseas, and if our industries can capitalize on exporting jobs overseas, and if our industries can get creative to import foreign labor into our state then surely our best minds can navigate the challenges of tapping into a challenging and remote labor force within our state.

WHAT IS SD TRADE?

SD TRADE encourages strategic land swaps between the state and the tribes. Tribes indefinitely release and legally assign (one hundred) acres to the state for the establishment of TRADE CENTERS (commercial and industrial) in exchange for (one thousand acres) of land the state deeds back to the tribes.

Imagine several TRADE CENTERS, one on Rosebud and others on Pine Ridge and Lower Brule. These are commercial and industrial work centers with various industries in one location, given tax and other incentives.

Industries at each TRADE CENTER contribute toward shift shuttles commuting workers back and forth to their communities each work day.

Pharmacies, clinics and support agencies can be encouraged to offer services adjacent to or within a TRADE CENTER complex.

South Dakota Tech Schools can be encouraged to develop onsite training for new recruits. State funds can be allocated to tech-ed schools for use in developing on-site skill training. Perhaps Federal funds are available and can be acquired for a TRADE CENTER pilot project.

South Dakota can ensure good roads from the Interstate to the various TRADE CENTER complex [Rep. Steve Hickey, draft proposal, 2014.09.04].

Land swaps to create economic development zones where we could plunk factories, offices, and training centers—fascinating! Our industry leaders find ways to make profits on production done thousands of miles away in Malaysia; what stands in the way of their using Hickey's SD TRADE plan to make Jeeps, jackets, and jerky just hundreds of miles away in Manderson and Mission?

Economic development on the reservations may be complicated, but Rep. Hickey reminds me that our "best minds" have plumbed all sorts of complexities for past economic development plans. Recall the wildly complicated financing of Northern Beef Packers.

And while we're recalling Northern Beef Packers, let us ask why NBP and other EB-5-backed projects weren't directed toward employing South Dakota's Indian workforce. EB-5 investors get their green cards for half price when they invest in "Targeted Employment Areas"—i.e., rural areas or areas with high unemployment. Every project funded by EB-5 dollars in South Dakota was in a rural area, but none targeted an area of high unemployment.

If EB-5 is wonderful (and Mike Rounds desperately needs us to believe to the exclusion of everything else), imagine how much more wonderful it would be if we combined it with Rep. Hickey's thinking and used it to join workers and jobs on South Dakota's reservations. Traditional markets don't gamble on reservation projects. Directing EB-5 investments toward SD TRADE work centers would fill exactly the capital gap that government intrusion in the economy like EB-5 ought to fill.

We may do better implementing Hickey's SD TRADE plan on its own, without entangling it in the questionable morality and economics of EB-5. But couple SD TRADE with EB-5 financing, and we may have a recipe for tackling the Indian workforce problem that the state and the free market are ignoring.

129 comments

Hey, Democrats! Do we get a 2014 electoral boost from steadily improving job numbers? Consider:

1. Ever since President Barack Obama's first budget kicked in, unemployment has trended steadily downward:

BLS: U.S. Unemployment 2004-2014

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

2. Since the beginning of the Obama Administration, Gallup's Job Creation Index (percentage of firms hiring minus percentage of firms downsizing) has steadily increased:

Gallup Job Creation Index 2008-2014

3. Sandbagging those gains have been Republican resistance to government hiring. More public employers were firing rather than hiring during President Obama's first term:

Gallup Job Creation Index 2008-2014: Private vs. Public

President Obama has overseen steady recovery in the labor market since averting an economic depression. We'd be recovering faster if President Obama really had increased the size of government as Republicans have accused him of doing, as more teachers, police, case workers, park rangers, and researchers would provide more public services and boost GDP by buying more Cheetos, chain saws, and Jeep Cherokees.

Republican recalcitrance has kept every one of the curves above shallower than it could have been. Sending more Republicans to Washington on their vow to block or sue President Obama's every move will further brake economic recovery. Sending more Democrats to Washington will get the job done... and get more jobs.

8 comments

I don't always reprint press releases, but when I do, it's because they're useful.

South Dakota Democratic Party exec Zach Crago offers—with more evidence and hyperlinks than we ever get from the dreary stream of GOP dreckfive good reasons to vote for Initiated Measure 18, South Dakota's minimum-wage increase:

It’s been 5 years since the last increase in the federal minimum wage - but now South Dakotans have a choice on Initiated Measure 18 to raise the minimum wage on November 4th.

In recognition of this anniversary, here are 5 reasons to vote Yes on 18:

1) States that raised the minimum wage saw faster job growth. According to state by state hiring data released by the Department of Labor, states that raised the minimum wage at the beginning of this year actually saw faster job growth than states that didn’t raise the minimum wage – contrary to the scare tactics of special interest critics.

Everyday South Dakotans get it: Put money in the pockets of hard working people, and they’ll send it on the things their families need everyday. That boosts consumer demand at small businesses and grows the economy.

2) Small business owners support raising the minimum wage. According to a recent scientific telephone survey, 61% of small business owners support raising the minimum wage. Why? The report says,

“Small business owners believe that a higher minimum wage would benefit business in important ways: 58% say raising the minimum wage would increase consumer purchasing power. 56% say raising the minimum wage would help the economy. In addition, 53% agree that with a higher minimum wage, businesses would benefit from lower employee turnover and increased productivity and customer satisfaction.”

Small businesses get it too: Workers are customers. When workers earn more, they spend more at small businesses and boost the economy.

3) Prices for everyday goods continue to rise, but the minimum wage has stayed the same. That means a South Dakotan’s hard earned dollar actually buys less and less for her family. Since the last increase in the minimum wage:

  • The price of milk has increased 21.2%
  • The price of eggs has increased 30.3%
  • The price of cheddar cheese has increased 21.9%
  • The price of gas has increased 44.6%
  • The price of electricity has increased 9.2%
  • The minimum wage has increased 0%. 

Too often, South Dakotans are working harder and harder just to make ends meet. Raising the minimum wage will help working moms and dads support their families in the face of higher and higher prices at the pump and in the supermarket.

4) 62,000 South Dakotans will earn more if Initiated Measure 18 passes. According to preliminary data from Economic Policy Institute, raising the minimum wage will give 62,000 South Dakotans a raise. Who are they?

  • 78% are older than 20. These aren’t high school students like special interests will tell you.
  • 55% are women – many of whom are supporting families.

5) Raising the minimum wage lifts people out of poverty – and off of government assistance. A full time worker earning the minimum wage makes $14,500 a year, which qualifies many working families for government assistance. Raising the minimum wage will lift many working families out of poverty and reduce the demand for government assistance. It’s a win win for working families and the taxpayers: working families make ends meet, and the public cost of low wages decreases for taxpayers [South Dakota Democratic Party, press release, 2014.07.24].

Susan WismerPaula Hawks, Robin Page, Mark Remily, all you Democratic candidates, if you're looking for stump speech material, this is it. Every speech you make from now until November should borrow at least some of Crago's text. Telling people why they should vote for the minimum-wage increase also tells them how we Democrats support South Dakota's best interests better than Republicans. Vote for Dems, and vote for 18!

15 comments

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