If you look hard enough, you can often find statistics to prove a point, and I found that to be true as I looked for areas of the country that have the strongest work ethic. I wanted to have some foundation for saying the hard work displayed by Hill City’s class of 2018 was consistent with what is said about people in this part of the country. They know how to work hard.
One site online determined that out of 10 states, Colorado was fifth, North Dakota was 10th and most of the others were from the east coast. South Dakota was not even in the running. Another site had Colorado as numero uno, Minnesota as ninth and South Dakota as 13th. Yeah, making progress. The rest of the 15 were from the east and west coasts.
Another site looked at major cities, choosing at least one city from each state. In South Dakota they chose Sioux Falls, and how did our major city fare? It came in 98 out of 116 cities with Denver at 19; Minneapolis, 40; Omaha, 64; Fargo, 108 and Cheyenne, 114. That study revealed the metrics used to determine the ratings, things such as the employment rate, average weekly work hours, workers leaving vacation time unused, enthusiastic workers and idle youth. They also considered indirect issues such as those with multiple jobs, commute time, average volunteer hours per resident and average leisure time for residents.
Oh, so those are the things they use to gauge work ethic. I would say in the Black Hills area, employment rate is high in the summer, low in the winter because there are fewer year-round jobs, something we have always said is a problem in this area. Weekly work hours? People here take what they can get, especially in the winter. As far as leaving vacation time unused, I think if people here even get vacation time, they value family enough to spend their off-time together. Enthusiastic workers and idle youth are categories I would have to ask employers and parents about. With an increasing retired population here, I would say we are pretty high in volunteer hours, but also increasing in average leisure time.
A person could argue with the method used to determine the statistics, but if there are not concrete ways to grade population groups we are left with anecdotal evidence, which isn’t very scientific. Looking at several sites, it doesn’t appear that our state is on top — somewhere in the middle to low. Ouch.
But back to the class of 2018, using local “anecdotal evidence,” this class knows how to work pretty hard. I counted 15 individuals on stage at Mount Rushmore who earned the Regents Scholar designation on their diplomas, and Mrs. Satter said that was more than 60 percent of the graduates, 15 out of 26. Those students worked hard for that honor, and that is not taking into consideration the other 11 graduates, some of whom probably worked their tails off in order to be on that stage at Mt. Rushmore.
Their accomplishments in high school make their parents, teachers and community members very proud. Carrying their bright yellow sunflowers down the steps at the Memorial on a picture perfect day, the faces of the young people beamed with anticipation to graduate and hopefully make their mark on this world. Let’s hope their high school work ethic translates to their future careers, and maybe it will even move South Dakota up a notch in the rankings for work ethic.