Labor Day recap: what are current Rapid City wages, and where are we headed?
RAPID CITY, S.D.- Labor Day celebrates the American worker, but both workers and employees are seeing changes in wages and labor availability on a local and national scale.
Rapid City residents have experienced both positive and negative impacts of the rapid expansion of the city and neighboring towns, and this growth often comes with growing pains. “We’re seeing in migration, finally, for the first time in our history, of people coming from the east side of the state to the west. So that’s bringing a lot of prosperity, but it’s also bringing some challenges specifically for our entry level and tourism and hospitality workers,” CEO of Elevate Rapid City Tom Johnson explains.
He says that the average weekly wage in private sector jobs in Rapid City is $890 to $960, which is up just slightly from last year’s numbers, but “the bad news is that inflation has gone up by a higher amount and the wages, and so that’s always a challenge for everybody across the country, frankly,” Johnson adds.
Both employers and and employees are strained by labor shortages, as less staffing can add pressure on remaining staff and on management. Johnson points to a lack of available transportation and housing as a couple of factors, adding that finding affordable childcare is one of the biggest barriers to entering the workforce.
“If you’re a young family and you’re trying to decide whether you should go to work or pay for childcare, and that childcare costs you as much as you would make at your job, that’s a hard decision to to make,” says Johnson. “And it’s one where you’re probably going to say, ‘I want to stay home with my kid and not get back into the workforce’.”
Johnson also says that it’s important to bring Rapid City locals into the jobs that are being sought by those moving into South Dakota. “So we’re seeing this continuance of our population that are being born here, not getting into those high-demand occupations. What this means is that we’ve got to do a better job of getting folks into those high-demand occupations,” Johnson adds.
Johnson says that economic progress will come from all groups lifting each other up, as those working in all industries are impacted by economic issues and successes, saying “we are going to rise and fall together, and that means those folks that are in the technology sector are going to be rising along with the folks in the entry level side. If we don’t work on that core blue collar group of entry level workers and make sure that they’re also participating in their wages rising, we’re not going to be the Rapid City that we want to be.”