Fearlessly fielding questions from the Sioux Falls Rotary yesterday, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari didn’t just rebuff the local anti-immigrant crowd. He also tweaked Governor Dennis Daugaard and South Dakota’s business leaders by telling them to quit confabulating a “workforce shortage” and pay better wages [bracketed times refer to the Fed video below]:
[4:03] I’ve heard already—we did some preparation for this trip. I’ve heard from a lot of folks that you all are short workers. So I want to hear… is that true? What types of workers are you looking for? What kind of pressure is that putting on wages?
[23:50] I talked about how the unemployment rate in the country has come down, yet we’re not seeing wages climb. So a question that I’m asking everybody is, if you’re complaining about you can’t find workers, why aren’t you raising wages? That’s what we at the Fed are looking for signs of, that tight labor market leading into higher wages.
[28:45] Are any of you planning to raise wages in the next year or two? Or are you just complaining about you can’t find workers and you’re not going to raise wages? Because I can tell you something… if you look at North Dakota and the oil boom, if you raise wages, people respond, and you can find workers. So are you really struggling to find workers, if so, the proof for me is you’re raising wages. If you’re not raising wages, then it just sounds like whining [Neel Kashkari, Minneapolis Federal Reserve President, remarks to Sioux Falls Rotary Club, 2017.08.07].
That last line about whining drew applause from some of the Rotarians.
The Minneapolis Fed provides the full video of its President Neel Kashkari’s Q&A at the Sioux Falls Rotary yesterday.