When the state legislature was arguing to increase teacher pay from last place with a half-penny sales tax increase, I argued at the time ‘What about the rest of us?’ Especially other professionals in the state, like nurses;

According to the American Nurses Association, South Dakota’s registered nurses have the lowest annual salary of any state and the District of Columbia, ranking 51st behind Mississippi, Alabama and Iowa.

The association reports that South Dakota’s 12,530 registered nurses received an average annual salary of $57,010, or $27.41 per hour in 2017. California’s RNs posted the highest compensation at $102,700, $49.37 per hour.

Health care officials say many factors contribute to South Dakota’s comparatively poor compensation levels for nursing, including the rural nature of the state, as well as low reimbursement rates to hospitals from Medicare, Medicaid and Indian Health Services.

I would agree Medicare/Medicaid expansion probably would help. But I have argued for years that if we want to increase teacher pay, we should concentrate on raising EVERYONES PAY! I have had several friends leave the state who work in the healthcare industry for the same reason, PAY. In fact two of my friends that are RNs literally DOUBLED their pay overnight by leaving the state. Think about that. DOUBLED! They also told me the same stories about the healthcare industry in Sioux Falls, where pay is top heavy and run amuck with corruption and greed. They also said, when it comes to nursing pay between the two major hospitals, there is obvious wage collusion going on. One of my friends who worked at both systems before she left for greener pastures said to me, “Don’t you think it is a little strange that both hospital’s nursing pay is IDENTICAL?” Yeah, things that make you go hmmmm.

But I don’t want to make this about nursing alone, many professionals in our state are below average when compared to other states. So when I hear our teachers need more pay, I would agree, but in reality your pay is reflective of what the rest of us are making.

So why has it taken so long for a news agency to cover this story? I think we know the answer to that question.

18 Thoughts on “Here’s a story that is years past due

  1. Paul ElevenHaken on November 23, 2018 at 2:05 pm said:

    Medicaid xpansion would not help, in fact it would hurt given the extremely low reimbursement rates. Medicare/Medicaid does not even come close to covering the cost of care provided for patients.

    I’d be curious to see what nurses make at facilities with a much smaller Medicare/Medicaid ratio than the big systems.

  2. oh, but we don’t have a state income tax, that makes up for low wages, doesn’t it?

  3. To Determined Be on November 23, 2018 at 2:28 pm said:

    This story gets me pretty fired up. In full disclosure, my wife is a nurse. There is part of me that reads this and wonders if its that time of year again and this story is about nurses pay instead of the semi-annual to annual teachers pay story. Maybe teachers pay has finally taken care of itself (I don’t believe that either) and the AL can finally report on some other industry in South Dakota that’s last in the nation.

    A little bit more full disclosure is that I’m a conservative south dacola reader, and being such am not a huge fan of unions. However with everything that I see going on at Avera and Sanford, I will happily say that they DESERVE a union. T-Denny can spend his money on whatever he wants, but the hospitals have become oligopolies that are building empires. Union negotiators would have the time of their lives tearing the leadership apart in both organizations.

    There are many careers where South Dakota is last in the nation. Maybe a little investigative reporting could write a story on that.

  4. Is there any sector where SD isn’t in the bottom states for pay?

  5. Taco Bar on November 23, 2018 at 3:45 pm said:

    The low wages in this state are our income tax, except the revenue from this taxation goes to a few and not the many in the form of greater government services.

    This taxation is the result of wage collusion, which is a by-product of the deliberations of a legislative body consisting of one percenters and their enablers.

    And those who call themselves the “job creators” in this state, or are constantly spinning everything into a economic development narrative, are actually nothing more than low wage creators.

    Only when we have politicians willing to raise the issue of low wages in this state, and not merely talk about a kinder and gentler form of economic development, will things begin to change; but until we change that narrative, the workers of this state will continue to be taxed, while the elite, or affluent, and their naive friends laugh all the way to a bank of greed and self-rightousness…



  6. Beer Jew on November 23, 2018 at 5:04 pm said:

    I loved what the program head at the school told me when I decided to go back to college. In not so many words, he said “If you want to make a decent living, plan on leaving the state.” Classic.

  7. D@ily Spin on November 24, 2018 at 10:18 am said:

    A higher wage and improved accreditation is warranted. Sanford is a controlling monopoly. Their bean counters keep wages low. Nursing services are somewhat inferior because it’s not a living wage. SD is a decent place to get nursing education and a job offer. Nurses not married to doctors or Sanford executives find employment but immediately interview for a better job out of state.

  8. The fact that South Dakota kicks every group of workers in the teeth does not mean we should resist any policy that would stop kicking any one group of workers in the teeth.

    But if we’re looking for a universal policy that helps every worker, then yes, we need to repeal our anti-union laws and let every sector of labor force unionize.

  9. The State is expecting anywhere from 35 to 60m in additional revenue from the taxation of on-line sales.

    This took effect November 1st.

    Where will this additional revenue be used?

  10. I can only speak from my experience..When I started at one of the two hospitals in town as an RN, I was paid $23/hr…on my way home from Minneapolis today, I pointed out a billboard to my brother for a home builder that would pay $25/hr. People that go into nursing and education or social service jobs put compassion and connection with others above pay. I’ve reread your statement Scott that teacher pay is somehow correlated with what others are paid in different professions. I strongly disagree. Every close family member of mine is a teacher. If we paid people for what they were worth and for what they contributed to the greater good, teachers should be at the top. It’s certainly not up to me to determine someone’s value, but I think if you spend your career putting others first. If your primary job is to make the life of someone else better then, nurses and teachers should be paid a lot more.

  11. Exactly Rachel, Teachers, Nurses and every other hardworking professional in this state (and blue collar) deserve a decent wage.

  12. matt johnson on November 25, 2018 at 9:13 am said:

    I am unaware of any one who has to stay in SD; we do not have indentured servants or slaves; leave for a better salary if you want; no one is obligated to pay higher wages (except those subject to minimum wage rules)- but should the work force be slimmed down then employers would have to pay more to get the needed help

  13. Taco Bar on November 25, 2018 at 11:32 am said:

    “….no one is obligated to pay higher wages…”

    Yes they are, it’s called the social contract….

  14. Conservative Here on November 26, 2018 at 3:36 pm said:

    I have heard this social contract stuff several times and I just don’t agree. No one is obligated to pay higher wages, the market dictates that, period. Its called supply and demand and its a universal concept. Things that are rare or hard to come by always cost more. Things that are common and easy to come by are cheaper. There is a reason the guy working the drive thru at Culvers makes less than an IT professional. The guy at Culvers are a dime a dozen and easily replaceable. The IT professional are more skilled and harder to replace. This does not mean our nurses and teachers are not appreciated nor skilled but, there are plenty of them to pick from.

    Are we saying with this Social Contract if I were to be wealthy I and own a business I am obligated to pay higher wages? If so, who decides that that is?

    I have also seen this “Living Wage” used in the comments about nurses not making a Living Wage. What is the definition of a Living Wage? I would say $25 an hour is enough to live on in Sioux Falls. You won’t be wealthy by any means but, that is 52k a year. That is 4 to 5 times the poverty level (12K a year). So I guess I just don’t understand some of these things that are thrown around as facts but, are more buzz words. I feel pretty confident our nurses are making a Living Wage. Could they be paid more, yeah I think so and I believe they are the heart and soul of health care

    I do believe there may be something to the wage collusion and that I would sure like to see investigated (not sure if its illegal). I would also love to see a 3rd party health care provider show up in Sioux Falls to compete. An Atlas like program would be amazing and provide an alternative. Link below

  15. No one is required to believe in the social contract concept, but in its absence is an inferior product or result.

    Just as one should offer a living wage as an employer so too should a business offer a product of value and or quality. To not do one or either, is to practice predatory capitalism and not good capitalism, and in so practicing predatory capitalism one promotes and or supports the collapse of capitalism itself overtime.

    I am glad to see that you recognize the wage collusion, which obviously goes on in this state. Nothing proves its existence more than the chiding that Federal Reserve Banker, Neel Kashkari, gave to the Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary Club in August of 2017 about wages being to low here and the reason as to why there were not enough workers here as well. Kashkari would have not made such a comment to that audience without knowing who he was talking to and who could make a difference when it came to wages in Sioux Falls and the greater state of South Dakota. His choice of venue and message proved that wage collusion exists in South Dakota.

    The market is what it is, but does not one want to support and promote a better market, which flourishes due to its integrity from preferable products and opportunity for all and not one that rots from it core due to predatory behaviorisms that keep the wealth for the few?

  16. Taco Car, that has often been my argument. Instead of trickle down, I have suggested trickle up. The more you pay middle income earners, the more they will spend and the more they spend, the more it helps the local economy and local business. It’s not that hard of an economic plan. And while the rich in SD would prefer to hoard their money, they really are just shooting themselves in the foot.

  17. “This does not mean our nurses and teachers are not appreciated nor skilled but, there are plenty of them to pick from.”

    so the teacher and nurse shortage is just fake news?

  18. Taco Bar on November 28, 2018 at 2:30 pm said:


    Henry Ford understood that many years ago, did he not? He understood that if you pay your workers a decent wage, that they will then turn around and buy his Model Ts… And the surviviability of capitalism is dependent upon this understanding. It’s called the multiplier effect.

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