Entries Tagged 'Employment' ↓

Higher Wages is the ONLY answer to a worker shortage

It seems Omaha is struggling with the same thing we are in Sioux Falls, low wages and trouble recruiting;

Nebraska business leaders have been sounding the alarm on the state’s shortage of skilled workers, seeking to get politicians to do more to help the state attract the workforce it needs to grow.

But there’s something CEOs themselves can do to pull in more workers: pay higher wages. And it appears that if Omaha’s employers want to be competitive in the job market, they may need to do that.

What often surprises me is the resistance to pay higher wages. I have argued when your employees are making more, they are spending more. That means a better local economy and more tax dollars for a better community. Keeping your workers poor really only makes you richer in the short term but hobbles the economy in the long term. Aren’t you tired of watching the local news telling us every night that shelters, food kitchens and food pantries continue to grow and expand? I am, it is something we shouldn’t be bragging about. Sioux Falls is an attractive city, why not make it more attractive by paying higher wages?

FF 24:20 (This was at the Sioux Falls Rotary)

Neel Kashkari, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, takes audience questions during a meeting of the Rotary Club of Downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on August 7. 2017.

Interesting labor study by the US Chamber of Commerce

There are some fine points in this short article, but I found this paragraph fascinating;

In our dynamic labor market, workers are continually shifting between jobs or moving in and out of the market. Over on the employer side, jobs are continually being filled as new ones open up. Consequently, the individuals available for work and the jobs open are not the same from one month to the next, but the trend toward fewer available workers relative to the rising number of job openings shows, in broad terms, the increasing tightness of the labor market.

Of course, available workers vary in terms of experience, skills, and location, so they may not match the occupational, skill, location, and other needs associated with job openings. This “mismatch” problem becomes especially critical when the Worker Availability Ratio is relatively low, as it is currently.

These stats will eventually go topsy-turvy, in other words, there will soon be a shortage of skilled employees. Employers really will be ‘forced’ to not only pay higher wages to attract people but they will have to train those people also. In our state and city employers are trying to get taxpayers to foot the bill for this training, even starting blue collar job training programs as early as middle school. I don’t have an issue with that, but employers need to pony up also (some are) by offering on the job (paid) training and once that training is completed successfully, higher wages. Some say money doesn’t equal happiness, but I can’t buy groceries with a smile.

We don’t need more services for the poor – we need higher wages

There was an announcement this week that the School for the Deaf was purchased to become a center for helping people living in poverty. As we all know, it will probably be tied in with some kind of ‘Ministry’ like most services for the poor are in Sioux Falls. But that is NOT the issue with the project.

It seems over the past couple of years our services for the poor have been exploding in Sioux Falls even though unemployment is very low. Feeding SD has expanded, the Banquet is building another location, The Barrel House restaurant has held several fundraisers for school lunches, The Bishop Dudley house has been built and likely will expand, the St. Francis House is expanding and so is The Glory House.

The Thrive report last year told us the problem, people can’t afford housing in Sioux Falls on the wages they are making. Sioux Falls also doesn’t have rent control ordinances.

While I commend those who want to help the working poor, creating more services for the impoverished doesn’t solve the underlying problem, LOW WAGES, Right to Work laws, and restrictions on Unions.

Not only do higher wages help to relieve poverty, they actually help the economy. When people make more money, they spend more! Raising wages would be a boon for our community.

I also see a secondary solution to poverty. I think the city, county and state should invest in a FREE birth control program, and I’m not just talking about FREE condoms at Monk’s House of Ale Repute, but women being able to get a prescription FREE. In Colorado State, with the influx of taxes from Marijuana sales they implemented a FREE birth control program. In the first year of the program’s usage, teen pregnancies were down 40%!

I know the good Christians in Sioux Falls want to do the right thing and help the poor, and we will never be able to eliminate poverty totally. Some people can’t work due to disabilities, some are just too old and others are just damn lazy. But I think workforce development tied in with family planning would go a lot farther then handouts, which are just subsidies to companies who want to pay low wages while the stockholders get richer by the day without paying a corporate income tax.

We need to stop the ‘Whack a Mole’ mentality when it comes to poverty in Sioux Falls. We need to start paying people living wages and educating them on SEX.

Sioux Falls City Salaries released

The numbers just came out this afternoon, so I have yet to fully review them. But after a quick look I was surprised to see that a lot of the mid-management got around $7,000 raises. I guess what surprises me is that sales taxes only went up about 3.5% from the year before (still waiting on final numbers).

Funny how the building permit numbers and raises come out almost instantly after January 1st, but we are still waiting on sales tax returns.

One surprise that stuck out was the City Clerk’s raise of $7,446. When Tom Greco was hired after retiring from the military, he was put at the top of the pay scale immediately, even though he doesn’t have a city clerk certification. In fact, after promising to get that certification, he still doesn’t have it. I guess I don’t understand that large of a pay raise when he still has to receive certification after 3 years. Also, his two assistant city clerks actually have more tenure, experience and certifications than their boss, go figure.

Here are the past three years of salary records;




Business owner who complained about Teen Minimum wage expands business

Funny how these things happen;

B & G Milky Way franchise owner DiAnn Burwell said “I’m here from open to close, every day, making sure the stores run right. I do my own accounting, I do my own ordering, I do my scheduling,Ii do everything. If I could afford to have somebody do that for me, I would, so $8.50 an hour scared me to death.”

Dropping the minimum wage for teens under 18 a dollar, from $8.50 to $7.50 an hour, may help some small business owners like Burwell.

“DiAnn gave a big sigh, it eased the pressure off me somewhat,” Burwell said.

It seems the only thing she was worried about was her bottom line, which seems to be doing just fine two years later;

The franchisee, a Sioux Falls couple, will operate the new location along 41st Street just east of the Harmodon Park entrance, said Bruce Bettmeng, who owns B&G with his wife, Pam. The Bettmengs will own the land and building, and lease it to the franchisee. The couple isn’t ready to announce their ownership yet, Bettmeng said. The wife worked for him at the B&G on West 12th Street about a decade ago.

If there is any argument behind raising the minimum wage, it should be it’s GOOD for business. I find it hard to believe they can continue to sell this successful franchise if the franchise owners were struggling to pay employees.

Here’s a story that is years past due

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.

Citi’s slow bleed

I warned that Citi would be having layoffs in September of 2017. They are claiming it is to prepare for their ‘expansion’. More like ‘reduction’. They seem to be doing it little by little.

So far they have had two ‘layoff’ incidents since September that add up to roughly 80 employees (these of course are ones we have heard about).

I wonder how many more ‘incidents’ we will hear about.

Wages not keeping up with housing costs

As you will see, this isn’t just happening in Sioux Falls and South Dakota, but across the nation;

Of the roughly 420,000 South Dakota jobs classified by the U.S. Department of Labor, several sectors dominate. About 63,000 jobs are in office support positions, another 47,000 in retail sales, about 42,000 in food preparation and service, 17,000 in grounds maintenance, 15,000 in personal care and service and 11,000 in health care support. South Dakota is routinely among the top states in percentage of residents who hold more than one job.

But what is that statistic? I have often wondered where to get that.

In the Sioux Falls metro market, inflation-adjusted median household income fell by 4.5 percent from 2008 to 2015; in the city of Sioux Falls, it fell by 8 percent over that time frame. Meanwhile, the number of households making $15,000 to $25,000 a year in Sioux Falls jumped by 50 percent during that period.

It’s really the middle-class income that hasn’t really changed at all.

That the housing shortage for low-income residents is worsening in Sioux Falls. The study notes that for every 100 families making 30 percent or less of the local median family income, only 39 affordable housing units are available.

I have often argued that Sioux Falls is growing too fast, growth for growth’s sake essentially. I was watching a news story last week where they were training middle school kids how to build houses. Really? While I don’t have a problem with industrial arts (I took 3 classes in school, drafting, wood working and construction) I also helped work construction with my brother and dad’s business.

Maybe we just keep building to just build. Sioux Falls really needs to slow it down a bit and concentrate on fixing up core neighborhoods and revitalization, which provides affordable housing. Sprawling out of our limits only drives up infrastructure and housing costs. Making due with what we have with the workforce to do it properly instead of this constant motion of ramrodding development.

We really don’t have a housing issue, we have a wage issue.

Director Pay Comparisons to Sioux Falls

While Sioux Falls is the smallest in population to the comparable cities in the region and has the least number of employees, 7 out of 22 directors make the most money. Sioux Falls also is the ONLY city listed that has a Chief Medical Officer (that is not counted).

Aprox Population

Omaha – 470,000

Lincoln – 260,000

Des Moines – 215,000

Sioux Falls – 180,000


Aprox Number of city employees

Omaha -2244

Lincoln -1967

Des Moines – Over 6,000 (I’m having trouble confirming this number, I wonder if this includes temp and PT and some cross over into the suburbs and county)

Sioux Falls – 1202


Director Pay (Yearly salary based on approximates from 2015-2018 rounded up to nearest 1000th)

SF-2018, Lincoln-2016-2017, OMAHA-2015-2017, Des Moines – 2015-2017


HR Director

Omaha –$153K

Des Moines – $160

Sioux Falls – $147K

Lincoln – $140K


Public Parking Super

Omaha – $91K

Lincoln – NA

Des Moines – NA

Sioux Falls – $82K


Street Director

Omaha – $93K

Lincoln – $84K

Des Moines – $101K

Sioux Falls – $125K


Light/Utility Super

Omaha – NA

Lincoln – $136K

Des Moines – NA

Sioux Falls – $94K


Health Director

Omaha – NA

Lincoln – $114K

Des Moines – NA

Sioux Falls – $159K


Chief Medical Officer

Omaha – NA

Lincoln – NA

Des Moines – NA

Sioux Falls – $215K


Chief City Attorney

Omaha – $190K

Lincoln – $136K each (2 Positions)

Des Moines – $180K (Two Positions, equal pay)

Sioux Falls – $157K


Public Works

Omaha – $170K

Lincoln – $136K

Des Moines – $156K

Sioux Falls – $186K


Police Chief

Omaha – $196K

Lincoln – $131K

Des Moines – $170K

Sioux Falls – $129K


Parks Director

Omaha – $86K

Lincoln – $123K

Des Moines – $143K

Sioux Falls – $159K


Library Director

Omaha – (multiple divided into regions)

Lincoln – $102K

Des Moines – $170K

Sioux Falls – $116K


Planning Director

Omaha – $155K

Lincoln – $91K

Des Moines – $139K

Sioux Falls – $147K


Maintenance/Custodial Director

Omaha – $104K

Lincoln – $85K

Des Moines – NA

Sioux Falls – $72K


Finance Director

Omaha – $157K

Lincoln – $136K

Des Moines – $152K

Sioux Falls – $179K


IT/Central Services

Omaha – $126K

Lincoln – $133K

Des Moines – $141K

Sioux Falls – $147K


Water Reclamation/Sewer Director

Omaha – $101K

Lincoln – $113K (Does Water Production and Sewer)

Des Moines – $141K

Sioux Falls – $124K


Water Department Super

Omaha –NA

Lincoln – SEE ABOVE (Does Water Production and Sewer)

Des Moines – NA

Sioux Falls – $115K


City Clerk

Omaha – $108K

Lincoln – $84K

Des Moines – $120K

Sioux Falls – $90K


Community Development/Urban

Omaha – $107K (combined with Housing – see below)

Lincoln – $107K

Des Moines – $135K

Sioux Falls – $126K



Omaha – (combined with above)

Lincoln – NA

Des Moines – $135

Sioux Falls – $79K


City Engineer

Omaha – NA

Lincoln – (Public works director – see above)

Des Moines – $157K

Sioux Falls – $131K


Fire Chief

Omaha – $205K

Lincoln – $131K

Des Moines – $155K

Sioux Falls – $126K (Previous was $146K)


Landfill director

Omaha – NA

Lincoln – $109K

Fargo – NA

Sioux Falls – $95K

NEW Warehouse in Flopdation Park is Hiring – Bottom of Living Wage Scale

Shocker, they are hiring a bunch of warehouse pirates and are paying at the bottom of the living wage scale.

As I said on my podcast last night, when anyone says ‘affordable housing’ it makes me cringe. I HATE THOSE TWO WORDS TOGETHER.

We don’t have an affordable housing issue in Sioux Falls, we have a wage issue. When is the city going to start asking new employers to pay living wages? The city, county and state have poured millions of tax dollars into Flopdation Park, shouldn’t those same people deserve a decent job?

Warehouse work isn’t easy, and those workers deserve a lot more than $15-$16 an hour.

Another industry in Sioux Falls bilking taxpayers for infrastructure costs and returning the favor with trailer park wages.