Now that the March 31 application deadline for the new Build Dakota vo-tech scholarship has passed, the State of South Dakota is paying Lawrence & Schiller to advertise the scholarship program. Wildly, Lawrence & Schiller is advertising Build Dakota by telling prospective students that they can make bigger salaries doing jobs that they might be able to get with lots of additional training beyond their vo-tech degrees than they can in other professions. And to make this case, Lawrence & Schiller has some poor slob sit in front of a computer and query national (not South Dakota, but national) average salaries not from an official source like the Bureau of Labor Statistics but from commercial website CareerBuilder.com.
We hire Lawrence & Schiller to promote a scholarship program intended to build the South Dakota workforce, and Lawrence & Schiller tells prospective workers how much they can make working elsewhere. Um, disconnect?
I just spent an hour replicating Lawrence & Schiller’s work and found that CareerBuilder.com is a data junkpile. For every job title I entered to seek salary data, I entered two for which Career Builder offered no South Dakota data, jobs like doctor, surgeon, chiropractor, optometrist, radiologist, reporter, writer, surveyor, librarian, clergy, game warden, childcare worker, carpenter, baker, machinist, and several other jobs that plenty of South Dakotans do.
But hey, if Lawrence & Schiller says Career Builder’s data is good enough for government work, then let’s go to work.
Here’s a list of 41 jobs, some of which you can prepare for at our vo-tech schools, for which Career Builder offers average salaries for South Dakota and the U.S. I calculate the percentage difference between our state wages and national wages based on the national figures (take the national average minus the state average, then divide by the state average):
|Job||SD avg salary||National avg salary||SD % below Natl|
|Real Estate Sales||$49,500||$86,006||42%|
The real story is not Lawrence & Schiller’s pitch that welders can make more than biologists and construction managers can make more than accountants. The real story is that for every job I enter, I find workers taking a 6% to 49% pay cut to stay in South Dakota. Readers, I invite you to spend your day trying to find a job that pays more in South Dakota than the national average, but so far, I’m not finding one.
So tell me: how does a wage list that says you’ll make less money no matter what job you take in South Dakota encourage young people to take a scholarship that will lock them into working in South Dakota for three years?