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Mitchell Short on Workers, Thinks Marketing Will Refill Labor Pool

Workforce coordinator Jacki Miskimins tells the Mitchell Daily Republic that Mitchell’s 2.6% unemployment rate is too darn low, leaving Mitchell employers scraping the bottom of the barrel:

Miskimins said there is always a portion of the workforce that is not a good fit for various reasons, including work ethic concerns and the inability to pass a background or drug test. When you start to drop below into the 2 to 3 percent range of unemployment, it increases the percentage of labor pool that isn’t a good fit for employers, Miskimins said, calling this scenario a “dysfunctional economy.”

Dipping into that portion of the labor pool in an attempt to fill positions can also have a direct impact on consumers. The struggle to find employees or the need to hire workers who may not be a good fit can alter the service customers receive [Evan Hendershot, “Low Unemployment Burdens County Labor Supply,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2015.10.01].

Miskimins cites an April 2015 report from Forward Sioux Falls that shows Davison County provided the second-biggest chunk of Sioux Falls’s recent in-migrants. IRS data discussed here in August show that from 2011 to 2012, folks leaving Davison County for Minnehaha and Lincoln counties outnumbered MinneLinc metropolites heading for the Corn Palace 3 to 2. Miskimins’s Mitchell Area Development Corporation is fighting that outflow with marketing. Mitchell boosters spent 18 months coming up with a new brand for the city. But again (as long as economic developers keep repeating their myopic marketing mantras, we have to keep repeating our response), the best way to keep people from leaving Mitchell for Sioux Falls is not to tell them Mitchell is wonderful, but pay them to stay.


  1. Loren 2015-10-02 09:07

    That darn Obama. He brought the unemployment rate down so low that we can’t find “good fit” laborers. Things were much better under Dubya when the unemployment was around 10% and folks would do any job to make ends meet and would accept minimum wage pay! Ah, for the good ol’ days!

  2. Douglas Wiken 2015-10-02 09:15

    Mitchell and Huron have always seemed like the armpits of South Dakota. I suspect these propaganda blasts about labor shortages are a back-handed attempt to attack minimum wage laws.

  3. Rorschach 2015-10-02 09:20

    Here’s an idea. Mitchell can get the state to spend $500,000 hiring an out-of-state employment agency to recruit out-of-state workers. They might get a handful of transitory employees that way that they can badmouth later. Oh, that’s been tried already for Trail King?

  4. Michael Wyland 2015-10-02 10:20

    Two points, one more inflammatory than the other:

    1) “Full employment” generally happens when the unemployment is somewhere in the 4%-5% range, because the unemployment figure includes seasonality factors and the lag time when employed people change jobs.

    2) If the labor force participation rate were at 2008 levels instead of the current 40-year low, current national unemployment would be approximately 10%.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-02 10:35

    Maybe, Douglas, but Miskimins was saying that Mitchell is short on workers for lots of high-wage jobs, too.

  6. Nick Nemec 2015-10-02 10:44

    The most successful campaign to recruit workers would be one that advertised wages significantly higher than the regional average wage for similar work. But then that would require area employers to pay wages significantly higher than the regional average wage for similar work, and God and the GOP know we can’t have that.

  7. Nick Nemec 2015-10-02 10:46

    If they are short of workers for high wage jobs then apparently “high wage” means something different in South Dakota than it means in other states.

  8. Paul Seamans 2015-10-02 11:10

    I have heard that the new Menards and the Walmart in Pierre are bringing in workers from the Mitchell area by bus. Maybe just a rumor or is Pierre paying better wages? Pierre is also complaining of a shortage of workers. The Pierre city council has given tax breaks to Menards and Walmart that other established businesses have not received. A lumber yard and two grocery stores have closed since these big box stores have come to Pierre.

  9. mike from iowa 2015-10-02 11:53

    High wage compared to what?

  10. owen reitzel 2015-10-02 14:26

    It deepens on what you do in Mitchell. While I have a job I graduated with a degree From M Mitchell in 2014 and I can’t find a job in my field of study. I’ve sent in resumes to a few places but have never even gotten a replay back. So things really aren’t that rosy in Mitchell.
    Plus take a look at the 500 jobs. Most are low pay or part time jobs

  11. Hank 2015-10-02 15:58

    Mitchell suffers like most places, people won’t move to a place that doesn’t have an emphasis on education. This is what we are known for. A couple with a 1 and 3 year old won’t come here because they hear about our low paid teachers and think our education system is bad. It isn’t that bad, but perception is reality in this case. This is just one hurdle, but it is real and people notice it. This is what voters in our state want. Until we can get representation from another political party, any other political party, our cake is baked.

  12. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-10-02 16:58

    Cory, “pay them to stay,” really is that simple.

    Doug, I agree with you about Huron and Mitchell! Eeeuw!

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-03 11:44

    Hank, vote Dem! Tell your neighbors to vote Dem!

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-03 11:49

    Paul, wow! Tax breaks for the big guys who in turn make lots of little guys go out of business. Ugh!

    See also MIT’s list of studies showing generally negative results from helping big-box stores:!Phoenix/Research/Tenant%20Research/bigboxstudies.pdf

    We might have to bring Sibby back. He can say a thing or two about how Cabela’s took his town for a ride:

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