Menards Employees Commuting To North Dakota Via Airplane

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The labor shortage in North Dakota has become so acute that the Menards here in my hometown of Minot is paying to commute 50 employees from Wisconsin to work in their store.

The employees would be flown from Wisconsin to North Dakota once a week for either four or five day work weeks, totaling 50 to 60 hour work weeks (including travel time, I’m assuming).

The $13/hour these workers would be receiving is about on par for what retail workers are making in Minot right now, meaning Menards is resorting to the additional expense of flying these workers in and out of the city every week as opposed to going above that pay threshold to hire someone locally. Probably a smart move as they don’t want to raise the level of their wage costs too high.

As substantial as the Bakken oil boom is, the labor shortage won’t be around forever, and when an equilibrium is reached this pressure on wages will drop.

Still, shocking to see a company going to the expense of flying relatively low-skill workers across the country to fill gaps in North Dakota. Not only is this market that important for Menards (their store one of the busiest in town), but the labor market really is that tight.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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