Unemployment rate is low and hiring’s high, why?
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - South Dakota’s unemployment rate is half of the national average, just below 3 percent.
Yet, employers are continuing to have a difficult time with seasonal staffing. When tourism season ramps up, where have businesses typically turned for employees?
Sarah Hustead, the Vice President of Wall Drug, knows where they’ve staffed in years past.
“If you’re in tourism and you’re trying to staff completely based on the local population, it’s just not high enough. We don’t have the available workforce to field this if we don’t get the international students,” says Hustead, “and the H2B workers.”
H2B workers are people who are temporarily in the United States that have a permanent residence elsewhere. They are given visas that allow them to legally work on U.S. soil, but there’s not many of them to go around according to Dan Tribby, the General Manager of Prairie Edge.
“They did free up 22,000 of the foreign worker permits, but that’s for the nation. So,” asks Tribby, “how do you get that?”
An employer must prove that that there are not enough U.S. workers in their location to be eligible to hand out visas. South Dakota’s tourism relies on the visas. However, businesses aren’t guaranteed to receive them even if the conditions are met.
“They released 22,000 more H2B visas just recently, which is nice, but it all goes into a lottery. So, it’s hard to hang your hat on relying on the H2B visas. The labor market is just tight everywhere, for the international students, the H2B workers and locally,” says Hustead. “It’s just really hard to get employees right now.”
The amount of visas granted is currently capped, meaning no more will be released. If there’s one things that could help the incoming tourism season, it’s more visas.
“If they could open up some more H2B visas, I think South Dakota is going to have a really strong tourism season and it could be made even stronger if those workers are here,” says Hustead.
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