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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tech Jobs Growing and Paying... But South Dakota Still at Bottom of Pay Scale

DSU students, take heart: the tech sector is still pulling its weight in the recession. A new report finds that the U.S. still managed to add 77,000 high-tech jobs in 2008. ($150 gets you the full survey from TechAmerica.)

South Dakota's doing what it can to keep up with the tech train. In 2007, our fair state added 700 new tech jobs (that's like putting everyone in Howard to work!) that have an average wage of $47,962. That's good news if you're a DSU grad looking for work in South Dakota, where, by my doodling with the wage stats from the South Dakota Department of Labor, average wages for all professions are about $33K.

But it's not spectacular news if you're a South Dakota employer competing to keep those DSU grads here on the farm or a state program trying to lure high-tech expats back, given that nationwide, those eager techies can earn an average tech-industry wage of $83,300. Uff da—last again!

Well, not quite last. We placed 51st... ahead of Puerto Rico.

Now indeed, South Dakota can still claim that low cost of living as an incentive to move here and take a pay cut. But for perspective, according to the most recent data available, South Dakota's cost of living is 90.5% of the national average. Our average tech wage is 57.5% of the national average. Therefore (cue slide rule), a DSU graduate choosing to stay in South Dakota rather than pursuing pay elsewhere is taking a 36% cut in actual purchasing power.

I'll still make the case that life is better in South Dakota than anywhere else (I'll still take blizzards over hurricanes or New York traffic any day!). But numbers like the above make that case a little harder sell.

By the way, six states still managed a slightly cheaper cost of living in Q4 2008 than South Dakota: Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and the big winner, Tennessee, with a COL of 88.3% of the national average. All but one of those states (Texas) has some sort of income tax.

1 comment:

  1. Let's hope that the tech jobs are still growing because economist Ernie Goss says that South Dakota will LOSE 12,000 jobs over the rest of 2009.



    Not to be all negative - the minimum wage increases on July 1st.


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