SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s no secret there’s more job openings than people to fill them in South Dakota.
Since May 2021, the state has had an unemployment rate of 3% or lower. The latest figure from November 2022 put the state’s unemployment rate at 2%. The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation report says there’s a workforce of 476,790 people in the state and 467,288 people are employed.
There’s more than 30 different occupational licensing agencies in South Dakota. The DLR oversees nine licensing boards, including boards for technical professions, cosmetology, electrical, plumbing and real estate.
In a news release Wednesday, Gov. Kristi Noem said her office will be working with Sen. Jim Stalzer (R-Sioux Falls) to pass a bill “to recognize out-of-state licenses for nearly every profession.” A bill with specific language regarding the topic has not yet been filed on the state’s legislative website as of Thursday morning.
Stalzer told KELOLAND News Gov. Noem’s office did extensive work on the legislation and he believes the bill will be officially filed Friday or Monday at the latest.
“Everybody is complaining about being short of workforce,” Stalzer told KELOLAND News.
Stalzer said he campaigned on removing occupational license hurdles if elected and staff with the governor’s office noticed his comments about the issue. He said after meeting with staff from Noem’s office they agreed to work together on specific legislation.
“Fortunately, they did a lot of the legwork for me,” Stalzer said. “Ours isn’t as open as Arizona’s was. Ours is more permissive than it is ordering them to do it. We’re very much trying to encourage them where somebody is already in the profession and where state lines do not impact performing the job.”
Noem’s office cited a report from a non-partisan research organization in Arizona called Common Sense Institute Arizona. A report from May 2022 shows when Arizona passed a law recognizing all licenses, without restriction or precondition, 4,723 licenses have been recognized from 5,269 applications since 2019.
Arizona is projected to grow by 15,911 workers by 2030 because of the 2019 law. South Dakota passed a similar law recognizing out-of-state healthcare licenses in 2021.
Stalzer said he has friends who serve in the Arizona legislature and was familiar with the topic having helped a bill recognizing occupational licenses for military personnel and spouses.
“Part of what we’re trying to make sure is that we’re not putting up artificial barriers just to protect the people currently in a profession in the state,” Stalzer said.
When asked about any specific numbers or estimates regarding how many jobs could be filled or impacted by this new legislation, Stalzer did not offer any figures. He said he believes the impact should be similar to Arizona but based on South Dakota’s smaller population the total numbers will be lower.
On a similar note to addressing workforce shortages, the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee passed a bill giving $200 million in loans for housing grants. The South Dakota Housing Development Authority chose to not disburse the money after concerns were raised about where the funds could be transferred.
Stalzer said this bill fits in with other legislation looking to address workforce shortages and bringing more workers to the state.