Worker search in Mitchell and state hits national newsTrail King and Mitchell are getting national attention in their quest for qualified workers. Trail King was featured on Fox News Tuesday in a report on South Dakota’s need for trained welders and other workers. The story comes on the heels of a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the state’s search for workers.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Trail King and Mitchell are getting national attention in their quest for qualified workers. Trail King was featured on Fox News Tuesday in a report on South Dakota’s need for trained welders and other workers. The story comes on the heels of a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the state’s search for workers.
The Fox News story focused on Abraham Kirk, who is a new welder at Trail King.
He was a union welder at Chrysler in Illinois who took a buyout in 2009 and then could not find a job to match his old salary.
“I had to take a job working at the gum factory,” Kirk told Fox News, “making $10.50 an when I was used to making $18 to $22 an hour.” He said he decided to head to a new “promised land” — South Dakota.
Kirk is making specialty truck trailers for construction and hauling at Trail King.
“This is a non-union shop,” he told Fox News, “and I definitely could compare this to Chrysler — a union job where they treat you well, you get good benefits, you get a 401k, they take care of you.”
“Anybody that’s got skills, if they want a job, they can get a job — tomorrow,” Trail King CEO Bruce Yakely told Fox News. “The unemployment rate is essentially zero for people that want to have a job.”
He said with overtime, a welder can make $80,000 a year.
Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce and Mitchell Area Development Corporation Executive Director Bryan Hisel told The Daily Republic that the publicity had an immediate impact.
“We started receiving a few calls in our office after it ran late (Tuesday) afternoon,” Hisel said Wednesday. “It was fast and immediate.”
The Mitchell Department of Labor office also reported getting calls, he said.
A big part of the attraction is the comparison with the rest of the U.S. While the national unemployment rate continues to hover around 8 percent, South Dakota’s is about half that.
“We have a completely opposite problem as compared to the rest of the nation,” Hisel said. “We continue to increase the number of jobs we have open.
“I think it has finally caught the attention of the national press in a sporadic way.”
He said Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s efforts to bring trained workers to the state was “an innovative and bold step.”
Daugaard is paying Manpower $5 million to find 1,000 new workers.
Hisel said the Mitchell area is quietly undergoing growth in population and jobs. The chamber and other groups will unveil a pair of studies this month on the area’s housing needs and income patterns.
“It’s a great and challenging time to be the economic development director,” he said.