There’s certainly room in the workforce: according to the United States Chamber of Commerce, South Dakota has the fourth-most intense worker shortage in America:
The U.S. Chamber reports that South Dakota has just 38 workers for every 100 job openings. The only states with worse worker/opening ratios are North Dakota at 37/100 and Maryland and New Hampshire at 36/100. Washington, California, Nevada, New Jersey, New York are the only states with even a few more available workers than openings.
Governor Noem pretends that this workforce shortage arises from her supposedly unique focus on Freedom™ (which is code for not governing). However, South Dakota’s workforce shortage is a chronic condition exacerbated by factors the Governor isn’t doing much to address, like lower immigration and a shortage of childcare:
Net International Migration to the U.S. is at its lowest levels in decades
U.S. Census Bureau data shows that net international migration to the U.S. only contributed to a 247,000 person increase to the U.S. population between 2020 and 2021. Compared to the prior decade’s high of a 1,049,000 increase in our population between 2015 and 2016 due to immigration, the impact that immigration has had on U.S. population growth dropped by 76%. Read more about this in our Immigration Data Center.
Lack of access to childcare
Even before the pandemic, a lack of access to high quality, affordable childcare was an issue. Research from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that due to breakdowns in the childcare system, the states surveyed (Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Missouri, and Texas) missed an estimated average of $2.7 billion annually for their economies.
A recent report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and The Education Trust shows that the pandemic created a vicious cycle for the industry; to return to work, workers need reliable childcare, but providers are facing immense challenges themselves. The pandemic forced many childcare providers to close or scale down: between February and April 2020, the industry lost 370,600 jobs — 95% of which were held by women. Unfortunately, the recovery has not been swift; as late as September 2021, childcare industry employment remained 10 percent lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Additionally, women are participating in the labor force the lowest rates since the 1970s. In the spring of 2020, 3.5 million mothers left their job, driving the labor force participation rate for working moms from around 70% to 55%. This number is improving – but it has not fully rebounded [Stephanie Ferguson, “Understanding America’s Labor Shortage,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2023.08.10].
If Kristi were getting back to her real job (which her new video suggests is getting all made up, standing front of her barren desk, and giving an awkward Trumpian thumbs-up), she’d be promoting more international migration and working on South Dakota’s lack of affordable child care.