South Dakota Deparment of Tourism and Labor launch tourism hiring initiative

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 5:31 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (KOTA) - The South Dakota Department of Labor and the Department of Tourism are teaming up to attract and hire more seasonal workers this summer.

It is the first time in state history that the two departments are teaming up to undertake the effort of recruiting workers, and it comes as the state expects a surge for the 2021 tourism season.

“The tourism industry has had a lack of employees for a number of years,” said Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen. “I would say there are numerous reasons for how COVID pandemic has exasperated that employment need.”

Tourism industry businesses are encouraged to post their job openings on SDWORKS, the state’s largest jobs database, which is run by the Department of Labor. The database consistently has more than 23,000 job openings. Job openings in the tourism and hospitality industry can be found here.

“We try to make it as user friendly as possible, an employer can go on and list their own jobs, or we can help them do it,” said Secretary of Labor Marcia Hultman. “We also have the ability to go out and get other job listing sites, and that’s what makes us so inclusive, so those 23,000 jobs that we have day to day come from different methodologies.”

Governor Kristi Noem initially announced the tourism workforce recruitment campaign at a press conference at Mount Rushmore on May 3 to kick off National Travel & Tourism Week.

“The success of our tourism industry is a major factor in South Dakota’s economic health,” said Governor Noem. “South Dakota’s economic success has led to the lowest unemployment rate in America. While that is excellent news, we have more job openings than workers to fill them – especially in travel and tourism. This campaign will recruit more workers to our state to support tourism, our second largest industry.”

In 2020, a total of 49,500 jobs were supported by the tourism industry, representing one out of 12 jobs in South Dakota. Those jobs include full-time, part-time, and seasonal jobs. Tourism generated $1.6 billion in income for tourism workers in 2020.

While many of those jobs are temporary, Hagen says that he hopes the long term ramifications are not.

“One of the longer term goals would actually be enticing these temporary workers into making South Dakota their full-time home,” said Hagen. “One thing we talk about is the ‘halo effect,’ and we’ve known tourism is great for showing off beautiful places in South Dakota and fun things to do, and we have both those in spades. However, it is much more important that tourism is the front door to economic development.”