Entries Tagged 'economy' ↓

Interesting Wealth Graphic of Sioux Falls

The Argus did a graphic of wealth in Sioux Falls. Not surprising to me, something I have known for awhile. Over two-thirds of households in Sioux Falls make under $50,000 a year, over a third make below living wages. And we wonder why food banks are growing leaps and bounds in this town.


Why hasn’t the Public had a City of Sioux Falls Financial report since April?

The mayor is set to give his CIP presentation next Tuesday, yet, we really don’t have any context where the money is coming from, or what it is projected to be.

In fact, there hasn’t been a financial report (publicly) since April of the March numbers, and the April report was quietly released on the city website on April 30 (not at a public informational meeting).

The returns are the lowest in years, in fact, even the entertainment tax is down. Could it be the boomtown has tapped as much as it can? Are revenues leveling out?


Is the city of Sioux Falls proposing Platting fee increases?



I have to admit, when I saw this proposal (DOC: Platt-fee-increase) I wondered what city I was living in. After all the lies we were told several years ago about how the developers were going to kick in 50% or more while increasing our taxes, I am still skeptical about what is up.

Stay Tuned.

Let’s raise the ENTIRE tide in this state


Are you as sick of hearing about it as I am? WE NEED TO RAISE TEACHER PAY! And we need to do it with an increase in taxes.

No we don’t.

First off, the money exists to increase education funding, it’s about priorities that our governor and state legislators make when it comes to funding education. Elect more socially conscious representatives that understand an educated society is a better society, and we can fix the education funding problem in Pierre. Keep electing backwoods hillbillies that are more concerned about shooting critters and unborn children (instead of educating the children that are already born) and there will never be more teacher pay.

Secondly, even if it was about raising taxes to increase teacher pay, why would any worker in this state support a tax increase to pay teachers more while their wages remain stagnant?

They won’t. This notion that somehow we are going to convince the hardworking citizens of South Dakota of another unnecessary tax increase to benefit one sector of our workforce (public teachers) just won’t fly.

So you ask, what is the solution? Don’t get me wrong, I think teachers should get paid better. A LOT BETTER! But I also think nurses, welders, plumbers, construction workers and hospitality workers should get paid better also in our state. This is why teachers will never have the support of other working South Dakotans for a salary hike, because we get tired of you whining about a pay increase when you won’t go to bat for the rest of us. Many workers in South Dakota in multiple fields are leaving the state in droves for better pay, we are all in this together, not just the teacher. Heck the state with the help T. Denny had to create an indentured servant program to keep welders here (Dakota scholarships).

My point is simple, when the teachers advocating for higher pay realize this just isn’t about them, but about all South Dakota workers, we will advocate for them, but they need to advocate for us to, you know, the ones paying their salaries.

I’m all for higher teacher pay, but are teachers for higher pay in other fields also? I’m guessing they are. Share the love.

Kind of reminds you of Sioux Falls economic recovery after the recession

Wall Street Journal, “An Unfinished Riff: The New Orleans Economy Ten Years After Katrina,” by Leslie Eaton and Cameron McWhirter:  “In the years since the storm forced out about half the metropolitan area’s residents, the population has rebounded to 1.25 million people, 90% of its pre-Katrina level…But as the $135 billion rebuilding winds down, federal employment data reveal a local economy increasingly skewed to low-wage jobs, especially restaurant work, one of the few sectors now employing more people than before Katrina. Those jobs drag down average incomes, analysts say, widening the economic divide between whites, who are generally richer than before, and blacks, who aren’t.”

Seems our state has plenty of money to fund education

So is the Governor and his administrators lying to the public when they say there is no easy solutions to raising teacher pay? The Mercatus Center disagrees;

South Dakota ranks 3rd among US states for its fiscal health, based on its fiscal solvency in five separate categories.

South Dakota’s strong fiscal position in FY 2013 was driven by very high revenues relative to spending and by low levels of debt. The state’s cash position indicates that South Dakota had between five and eight times the amount of cash needed to cover short-term spending in FY 2013. South Dakota’s revenues exceeded expenses. Long-term liabilities accounted for 9 percent of total assets, and the state had excess assets after meeting its debts. Debt levels were among the lowest in the nation at 1.3 percent of state personal income. Under its own accounting assumptions, South Dakota’s pension system was fully funded. However, when calculating the pension liability on a guaranteed-to-be-paid basis, the unfunded liability amounted to $6.7 billion.

After reading this, I thought I may be living in another state and don’t know it. We often hear the constant drum beat from Pierre that ‘the money isn’t there’ not just for education, but we heard it with road funding also. Unless the accountants at the Mercatus center got their wires crossed, it seems the state could afford more money for education, roads and even sending some of their extra revenue to strapped counties so they don’t have to continue to opt-out. So why is the state hoarding money that could be spent? Isn’t that what we pay taxes for? To be spent on programs to help the residents of our great state. If I knew the state was interested in keeping a savings account, I say just reduce my taxes instead, and I will take care of my own savings.

The Mercatus Center also has a fascinating blog.

Paycheck to Paycheck

YouTube Preview Image

Support the Minimum wage increase


Turn That Frown Upside Down: A Heartwarming Tale of Debt and Deficits in the Modern Economy

Dr. Stephanie Kelton’s keynote address to the students, faculty, and visitors at Augustana College’s (Sioux Falls, SD) Undergraduate Research Symposium on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 10am.

Radical ideas to raise wages?


Image courtesy of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

I found this interview with economist Dean Baker very interesting. I agree with him that in some cases, a tighter job market can increase pay, it just hasn’t happened yet in Sioux Falls. I think that the work ethic, people holding multiple jobs, high productivity and the wealthy and corporate interests hoarding their profits has contributed to the fact that wages haven’t increased ‘YET’ in Sioux Falls. Workers are starting to become ‘wise’ to the fact that their employers are doing better after the recession and I think if the minimum wage increase passes in November, you will see other sectors raising their wages also;

Baker: This is one of the main points that Jared and I wanted to emphasize in writing this book. For large segments of the workforce, their ability to get pay increases, to share in the benefits of economic growth, really depends on having a tight labor market. And what really opened our eyes on this was our experience in the late 1990s. Jared and I were both working here in Washington at the Economic Policy Institute. At that point, they thought around six percent unemployment was the best we could do. We got down to four and half percent, and then four percent as a year-round average. And then we saw real wage growth up and down the income ladder — even people at the bottom end of the labor force were actually seeing good real wage growth during that period. And the basic story was that in a tight labor market, there was an increase in demand for people to work as checkout clerks at Wal-Mart, or to work at McDonald’s. When there’s tight demand for those people then they’re in a position to actually get wage increases, and that’s what we saw in the late ’90s.

We’ve done a lot of work on this, and you can’t make that result go away. So in this sense, it’s not just the unemployed, or even the underemployed — underemployment is a big deal as well, because a lot of people at the bottom also don’t get as many hours as they want — but it’s also about people who do have a job getting more pay because they’re in a position to bid up their wages.

When you have tight labor markets, Wal-Mart’s going to have to pay people $15 dollars an hour. It’s not a question of them just being nice guys or anything. If they want workers, they’ll have to pay them $15 bucks an hour.

He also brings up the fact that many people are so happy to just have a job, that they will work for crumbs without complaining for a pay increase;

Holland: A few weeks ago, Ezra Klein wrote that inequality isn’t the defining economic issue of our time. He said underemployment and unemployment were, and that launched a big debate. So was that a false choice, if I understand what you’re saying now?

Baker: On my own blog I said it missed the issue to make them separate points, because a big chunk of the story with inequality is the fact that you have so much unemployment. And, again, the reason why people are working at Wal-Mart for $7.25 an hour is because they don’t have alternative employment.

It’s really kind of a striking — if you go back and look from ’38, when we first created the national minimum wage, the Fair Labor Standard Act, until 1968, the minimum wage actually tracked toward activity growth. It didn’t just increase with inflation. Workers at the bottom were getting their share of productivity growth, so they were sharing in the gains of growth over those three decades. If the minimum wage had continued to keep pace with productivity growth from ’68, when it was at its purchasing power peak, until the present, it’d be about $17 dollars an hour today. And it’s not that I think we could raise the minimum wage to $17 dollars per hour tomorrow and not effect employment. Of course it would. But the point is that we had an economy that could support jobs that paid the equivalent of $17 dollars an hour for the person working as a checkout clerk at Wal-Mart.

So you can have a much higher wage economy, and a big part of that story is having low rates of unemployment.

He also brings up a curious, radical approach, to increasing wages and spending by those wage earners-work less hours;

The last point is hugely important. We can control the number of hours people work. The thing people should realize is that the story of unemployment is actually a story of us being too rich. That sounds strange to people, because we know we have an awful lot of people who aren’t too rich and don’t have enough money. But the point is that we’re producing the things that we’re consuming. People for the most part have housing, they have food, they have medical care, and we still have somewhere around 10 percent of the workforce unemployed, underemployed, [or] out of the labor force altogether.

So, in effect, what’s happened is, because we’re so productive, we end up with a situation where we don’t have enough work for people. Rather than that being a source of poverty for those people who are unemployed or underemployed, wouldn’t it be much better if we all just worked fewer hours?

Now, it’s not that easy to get from here to there, but the comparison that we make in the book — and I think it’s worth people keeping in mind — is that if you look at Western Europe — Germany, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, pick a country in that list — they work about 20 percent fewer hours than we do in the United States on average. And if you just snapped your fingers and said, ‘okay, we all work 20 percent fewer hours, it would result in 20 percent more jobs.

Now, in the real world, it will never be that simple, but that’s more or less what we’re talking about. So, to my view, a great way of dealing with unemployment is encouraging people to work fewer hours. It’s a great way to increase employment, and also make people’s lives better. People value having paid vacation, they value having paid sick days when they’re not feeling well or they have a family member who’s not feeling well. They like paid family leave when they have newborn kids or an elderly family member they have to care for. So that’s a really good way to try to deal with the problem of not having enough jobs.

I like this last suggestion the most. I know after I changed my part-time job last month (I work half the part-time hours I did before, make just as much money at my new part-time job, and have my weekends entirely off) that I am happier, less stressed, not as tired, and way more creative. Imagine that, working less would actually help the economy, or at least make happier Americans.