For Immediate Release: Friday, June 20, 2014
Media Contact: Tony Venhuizen or Kelsey Pritchard, 605.773.3212
Helping People Get Back To Work, a column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard
PIERRE, S.D. -- In South Dakota our unemployment rate is only 3.8 percent. That's very low compared to the national rate of 6.3 percent, and about half of the rates in California and Illinois. Worse yet, nearly 30 metropolitan areas have unemployment rates of over 10 percent.
South Dakota's low unemployment rate is in part thanks to the work ethic of our people. South Dakotans don't just love to work, we live to work. Working hard has been instilled in us by our ancestors. This becomes more and more evident to me when I talk to business owners who have locations in multiple states. They often tell me their South Dakota locations are the most productive.
Our low unemployment rate also has to do with responsible governance. In South Dakota we help those who stumble, but we know we can't carry those who choose to lie down. Unlike some states that allow a person to receive unemployment payments for almost two years, South Dakota has kept unemployment insurance as a more temporary assistance program -- a program in which claimants are required to work hard to find employment.
In May of 2012, the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation implemented a program for the unemployed called Re-Employment Intensive Services (RIS). Those unemployed who have received payments for more than 10 weeks must engage with dedicated labor specialists for one-on-one assistance in the job hunt. The program helps them identify in-demand careers, evaluate their skills and find training options.
RIS is working. Over the past two years, 1,854 people who participated in RIS have obtained employment. Only about 6 percent of those who participated in RIS exhausted their UI benefits.
Eighty-seven years ago President Calvin Coolidge and his wife, Grace, came to South Dakota and made the State Game Lodge in Custer their summer White House. No sitting President has spent as much time in our state, but that's not the only reason I admire Silent Cal. It's primarily because of something he said, a phrase that I have taped to my desk:
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
President Coolidge knew that people sometimes stumble -- there will be times when we all need some sort of help -- but he knew we must all press on even when we do stumble.
That's exactly why RIS has been such a success; because it requires persistence. Through this program we're helping put people back to work. Not only so they can provide for themselves and their families, but so their self-pride and sense of accomplishment can be restored.
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