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Workforce Summit Blah Blah Blah: Just Pay Better Wages!

As Governor Daugaard begins dog-and-pony-showing the results of his Workforce Summits, newly Hillsified Seth Tupper takes a look at the tight labor supply in Rapid City. Predictably, we get some smoke about how far a dollar stretches in South Dakota. John Tsitrian pounds down the relevance of this excuse for low wages.

Tupper's own article offers the best counterexample to South Dakota's faith in low cost of living and high quality of life to overcome low wages in attracting workers, the Bakken oil fields:

Duff Kruse, president and general manager of Adams ISC in Rapid City, said another factor is the demand for workers in North Dakota’s booming oil patch. His growing manufacturing and repair firm employs 68 workers, including steel tradespeople such as welders, mechanics and machinists.

“We pretty much run help-wanted ads for welders and other skilled people nonstop,” Kruse said. “The last two years, I don’t think there’s ever been a time when we haven’t had help-wanted ads running.”

While he’s paying skilled tradespeople $35,000 to $60,000 a year, he has heard workers in similar jobs are making up to $30,000 more for the same kinds of jobs in the North Dakota oil patch....

Benjamin Snow, president of the Rapid City Economic Development Partnership, also identified the pull of the North Dakota oil boom as a factor in Rapid City’s tightening labor market. Almost anyone who wants a job in the oil patch can have one immediately, he said [Seth Tupper, "On Labor Day, Jobs Aplenty in Rapid City Area, but Wages Are Low," Rapid City Journal, 2014.09.01].

Think about the Bakken. Under the South Dakota state religion, no one would ever go work in the Bakken. North Dakota sucks. In Williston, milk costs $5 a gallon, rent averages $2,000 a month, and dye and a haircut cost $100. And for that high cost of living, you get to live amongst a bunch tired, cranky men in worse terrain and winters than the bleakest corners of South Dakota.

And yet workers flock there instead of beautiful, sunny Rapid City for one obvious reason: better wages. It's that simple.

Whatever else Governor Daugaard tells you today and tomorrow, boil any prescriptions for bringing more skilled workers to South Dakota down to one simple plan: pay workers more.


  1. jerry 2014.09.02

    Great article. I am thinking that one of the reasons republican lead governments at both state and national have such a time with wage increases and the like, is their complete lack of business knowledge. Of course, republicans just cannot seem to govern as to making decisions that help the bottom line of wherever they are in power. Case in point is the Medicaid Expansion in South Dakota and how that could really make a huge impact on our working poor for sure, but it could also help lift the entire economy as it has done in states that did this. By raising the minimum wage, here we go again helping to raise the standards of skilled workers that have an effect on main street as well. At a national level, here is what a republican led congress of non business types works on, you guessed it, waste, their own. They seem to see nothing wrong with the billions they have squandered to do nothing but harm and punish this country.

    We can and must do something about this and it starts in November. Vote out the incompetence we have had dealt to us by a do nothing house representative that thinks spending those billions to hurt us somehow makes sense. Vote out the arrogant, incompetent, scandal loving Governor, along with his corrupt minions, to really make this "The Sunshine State" once again.
    Along with voting those two knuckleheads out, how about keeping Tim Johnson's seat democratic and scandal free. We certainly do not need to see the likes of the teacher of all corruption go further up the ladder to have even more access to our money. A vote for Rick Weiland would help put the boot down on this cockroach that once was our governor. I hope you all had a great Labor Day that came to us from the work of honorable women and men who sometimes gave it all so we could have this weekend and weekends in general.

  2. bearcreekbat 2014.09.02

    Jerry, assuming it is accurate, the information in the link you put up should be broadcast to the voters throughout this state, and throughout the nation. What a waste!

  3. larry kurtz 2014.09.02

    Duff is a former client and a good guy.

    One aspect of this story that gets little press is the impact of video loottery on desperate workers being preyed upon by employers who witness the economic carnage first hand by the number of advances wage earners beg for.

  4. Steve Sibson 2014.09.02

    "pay workers more"

    That would be a free market solution. Sadly both Republicans and Democrats have abandoned that 80 years ago in order to implement Keynes' planned economy. Jerry provides a Democratic example on this thread:

    "Case in point is the Medicaid Expansion in South Dakota"

  5. larry kurtz 2014.09.02

    Steve: you're on Medicare, right?

  6. Steve Sibson 2014.09.02

    Larry, no me and my employer are paying the premiums as we also pay premiums for the private plan I do use. If it was a free market, I would have a choice as to which one I could drop.

  7. larry kurtz 2014.09.02

    Ah, choice, Steve: seven sacraments for men but just six for women. But you are within months of Medicare coverage, right?

  8. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.02

    Whoo! The Shepard article made my brain curdle in on itself. I now have substantially more space in my skull.

    Who is Seth Tupper? Journal news writer? Opinion writer? Both? None of the above?

  9. Lynn 2014.09.02

    It's too bad the Mitchell Daily Republic no longer has Seth. The Rapid City Journal is gaining by having him there.

  10. Roger Cornelius 2014.09.02

    Rick Weiland's campaign has been sharing the Shepard Post on Facebook and encouraging others to do the same.

    Once again South Dakota Republicans refuse to look at the big picture, particularly with Medicare Expansion. Voters need to see just how the state GOP is not providing health insurance for the poor, but wasting money and not enhancing the South Dakota economy because we have a black president.
    Should Daugaard pull an October Surprise and announce Medicare Expansion, I know that isn't likely because it would hurt his base, but he also has to consider how many of the uninsured are also voters.
    The 48,000 uninsured voters need to be another target group for our Democratic candidates. A very simple campaign, If You Want Medicare Insurance, Vote Democrat.

  11. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.02

    Thanks for the info Lynn.

  12. lesliengland 2014.09.02

    so, sib you agree u changed deb's words and persist on trying to suggest she said something she did not.

  13. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.02

    Leslie, I wish I could have met you at Rickstock, but bad timing I guess. However, you know my friends in RC and that's nice.

    Okay, I wish I didn't have to ask, but what is Sibson making up about me? Is it anything I need to address, or can I continue to ignore his noise?

  14. lesliengland 2014.09.02

    i knew u ignored him and i do 90% of the time. if he attacks individuals i pay attention. when he gets on the mitchell school board his approach will fail. he said something about your statement that "less educated, smaller states" meant you were calling south dakotans stupid. our next bash in the hills is "octoberfest".

  15. lesliengland 2014.09.02

    i think he also switches threads so it is harder to follow his tracks. his earlier similar comment today must have been on a different thread.

  16. moses 2014.09.02

    Love it when Rapid squeams with minimum wage either pay or go away , and thats whats happening in N D, I hear that sucking sound of big bucks to the North which will draw workers away , serves them right.

  17. lesliengland 2014.09.02

    deb-see sibson 20:06 and at 20:36 in cory's previous Workforce Summit Final Report today. i may be the one thread-confused. :)

  18. JeniW 2014.09.02

    Deb, IMO, continue to ignore him. You are on his s*** list, and he takes jabs at you that are meaningless.

    You are able to express your opinions well, and from what I can tell almost all of the other Madville participants respect your opinions, even if they disagree with you.

  19. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.02

    There you go. Less educated = stupid. Yeah, I'll continue to ignore him. Thanks for the kind words. It's mutual. I have a great deal of respect for most Madizens.

  20. lesliengland 2014.09.03

    happy labor day-ceo pay increased 937% since 1978. forbes, deening (9.10.14). since 1958 labor has lost ground to sharing the wealth and income disparity has been on the rise since then (chart). daily kos, clawson (9.02.14)

  21. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.03

    Here is a fascinating article based on an excellent study in the MinnPost. It's about the explosion in unemployment, China, the efficacy of government largesse to certain industries, and more. It's from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

    It doesn't include the disaster that continues to ooze from Bill Clinton's NAFTA. This article includes a direct link to the study itself.

  22. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.09.03

    "over two decades starting in 1990, the manufacturing base in those counties – Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse and Wilkin – increased 53 percent compared with a national decline of 33 percent, according to the report."

    This refers to towns in western MN of fewer than 500 people. Note these are manufacturing jobs, not minimum wage. Imagine what that kind of real economic development would mean to those small towns Rick Weiland has been visiting.

    Why isn't this kind of thing happening in SD?

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