Study shows wages in South Dakota are lowest in the region
The Economic Policy Institute released the 2012 State of Working South Dakota Report. The report provides data about family incomes, wages, unemployment, wealth and poverty.
South Dakota has the third lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 4.5 percent compared to the national average of 8.3 percent. But, the report shows that unemployment figure doesn't tell the whole story.
While many South Dakotans have jobs, they're earning less than the rest of the nation. The report shows the South Dakota median wage is the lowest in the region and has been for man than three decades.
Kathy Callies from the Alliance for Economic Security shared a story she finds all too common in South Dakota.
"We don't need more jobs, I have three jobs Kathy, I need one good job with benefits so I can take care of my children and raise them to be the best they can be," Kathy Callies said.
Sioux Falls resident Katherine NoMoccosin knows exactly what that feels like. She begins her work day at 1:30 am delivering papers. Then she heads to her next job as a hotel housekeeper. After a quick break for supper, she heads to her next job—delivering the shopping news.
"The reason I have three jobs is because the economy is so low, that's the only way I can get my bills paid," NoMoccosin said.
Low wages are especially relevant among South Dakota's Native American population. While South Dakota's median household income rose from 2007 to 2010, Native American's average income dropped more than 18 percent.
Doug Hall, a member of the Economic Policy Institute which released the report, said you may be surprised to find how many people are living on minimum wage in South Dakota.
"A significant proportion of them are married, a significant proportion of them are parents raising children," Hall said.
Education also plays a major role in earnings. On the positive side, the report shows more members of the South Dakota labor force are seeking higher education.