When a national publication decided to spotlight America's ever-expanding labor shortage, they chose a South Dakota business to illustrate the challenges facing employers all over the country.

RF Buche, president of GF Buche Company of Wagner, is quoted in the recent Pew Stateline article 'There Are More Jobs Than Jobless People in 42 States'.

Experts say the labor shortage, the biggest facing the country in more than 50 years, was sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led workers to reassess their employment choices.

MORE: South Dakota Has One of the Biggest Labor Shortages in America

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In the story, Buche talks about how a lack of staff has impacted the company's business practices.

'We’re losing a lot to COVID fears. They’re not the primary breadwinners and they think ‘Hey, I’ll just stay back home.’ They could get by financially without major concerns. I’m more worried about burnout than anything else, people working extra shifts. It’s as bad as I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been in this business all my life.' 

Buche says his company, which has been in business for 116 years and owns grocery stores, convenience stores, hardware stores, fast food restaurants, and an auto parts store in 11 communities throughout South Dakota, faces a deficit of about 55 shifts out of the 416 he needs most weeks.

To try and attract more workers, Buche says he's been offering $2,000 signing bonuses and employee meal discounts.

The South Dakota Retailers Association is also offering $1,000 for anyone who moves to the Mount Rushmore State and holds a job for at least three months.

Labor Shortage Map
PEW Stateline

Overall, South Dakota currently has 1.9 job openings for each unemployed person in the state.

Nebraska leads the nation with the biggest labor shortage with three job openings per unemployed person in the state.

Nine other states have at least twice the number of unfilled jobs per unemployed residents:

  • Utah - 2.8
  • Vermont - 2.4
  • New Hampshire - 2.4
  • Georgia - 2.2
  • Idaho - 2.2
  • Alabama - 2.1
  • Kentucky - 2.0
  • Montana 2.0
  • North Dakota - 2.0

There are just eight states with more unemployed workers than job openings: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York.

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