News Column

More Than 1,000 Jobs Available in Aberdeen

Jan 30, 2013

Jeff Natalie-Lees

Aberdeen has more than 1,000 job openings, two years after business boosters launched a recruiting campaign.

The Department of Labor Aberdeen office has 1,172 job openings listed, and of that, 851 jobs are specifically listed for Brown County, said Dan Thielsen, office manager.

"I can safely say there are 1,000 jobs available in Brown County because not every employer lists with us," Thielsen said. "For example, the beef plant is not listing their jobs with us, and I know they have about 150 available."

While the country has been slow to recover from the recession that began in 2008, Aberdeen has fared much better. The booming agricultural economy, strong health care sector and a diversified industry base have kept unemployment low in Aberdeen, say economic development officials. Two years ago, the 1,000 Jobs recruiting campaign was launched to try to bring more workers to Aberdeen.

The unemployment rate in Aberdeen is 3.8 percent, compared to a statewide rate of 4.4 percent and a national rate of 7.8 percent, according to the latest South Dakota Labor Department statistics.

"There are a lot of jobs available, and I know some businesses that will be hiring within the next few months," Thielsen said. "The prospects for continued job growth looks good."

Northern Beef Packers is ramping up hiring. The plant is wanting to hire 150 more employees, said Laure Swanson, marketing and public relations director for Northern Beef.

The plant needs a variety of workers, especially those with experience in meat cutting, she said.

The company is accepting applications through northernbeefpackers.com. Applications can also be printed off the website and brought to the plant, Swanson said.

Midstates Print and Media Solutions also is hiring and currently has 25 job openings, said Amy Jones, human resource director.

"We have a variety of jobs such as web programmer, district coordinator, marketing representative, a national sales position and production positions," she said.

While it is a tight labor market, the company has not had problems filling the positions, she said.

"The hardest positions to fill are the skilled production positions, which require specific skills," she said. "It is not as hard to find basic production workers."

The starting wage for unskilled positions is $8 to $10 an hour, while skilled production positions range from $13 to $18 an hour, she said. A web press operator is the highest skilled position, starting at $18 an hour.

Midstates, which has expanded its facility in recent years, plans to continue to grow its work force. Right now the company has 260 full-time workers and 50 part-time or temporary workers, Jones said.

"We will continue to add people," she said.

Menards currently has three to five job openings, said Chad Wall manager. He said the company has been able to fill openings as they become available.

"We get a fair amount of applicants when we advertise for a job opening," he said. "There is a tight labor market in Aberdeen, but it hasn't been that bad for us."

Fast food restaurants frequently feel the pinch of a reduced labor pool, but Mike Salem, who owns the two McDonald's restaurants in Aberdeen, said his business has been able to find good employees.

"It is a little more cha-llenging, but we offer competitive wages and health benefits for full-time workers," he said. "Part of any business is attracting people that fit the business. I have been doing this since 1976, and it has always been that way."

To fill shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, McDonald's works with people to schedule shifts that fit into their schedule. There are many part-time employees of all ages -- from high school students to retired older people, he said.

McDonald's employs about 140 people at both locations.

"We have raised wages over the years," he said. "Most people are making quite a bit above minimum wage."

Full-time employees start at $8.50 to $8.75 an hour for day or evening shifts, and the overnight shift starts at $9.50 to $10 an hour. Starting wages are lower for those working part-time, he said. There are also chances for advancement and performance raises, Salem said.

Thielsen said, those looking for a job can come to the Department of Labor Office or go to www.sdjobs.org.

"There are a lot of jobs out there," he said.



Source: (c)2013 the American News (Aberdeen, S.D.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.