Last week Bob Mercer had the guts to point out Governor Kristi Noem’s bald-faced lie about South Dakota’s job recovery during the coronavirus pandemic. In an August 14 press release, Governor Noem claimed, “South Dakota’s economy, having never been shut down, has recovered nearly 80% of our job losses.” Mercer pointed to public data summarized for and presented to the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors on August 18 showing that the job rebound since the onset of the pandemic is more like 48%, which by no mathematical or logical method may be characterized as “nearly 80%.”
In other words, Governor Noem lied.
Now Seth Tupper points to additional data indicting Noem’s economic exaggeration from Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation analyst Richard Cofer, who told the South Dakota Banking Commission Thursday that by his count our coronavirus-recession job recovery stands at 43.5%:
“South Dakota lost almost 42,000 jobs between February and April and has regained about 18,000,” Cofer said, “so it still hasn’t recovered half of those jobs yet.”
Cofer’s analysis included private-sector and government employees [Seth Tupper, “Noem Says 80 Percent of Jobs Recovered, But Analyst Says 40 Percent,” SDPB, 2020.08.27].
If we go to the three significant digits in the heading of Cofer’s slide #14, we get 43.5% job recovery since we fell off the coronavirus cliff, with more jobs left to recover (23,600) than have already been recouped (18,200).
If Noem has learned anything from Donald Trump, it’s that when caught in a lie, lie harder:
Ian Fury is a spokesman for Gov. Noem. Fury said Noem’s numbers were calculated differently. Instead of using February as a starting point, he said the governor’s office used an annualized number from 2019 [Tupper, 2020.08.27].
That’s just bad math. You don’t use an annualized figure from last year to calculate how much less bad an economic calamity has become from February to August of this year. Plus Noem’s spokesboy don’t tell su which annualized figure Noem is looking at, so we can’t check the calculation ourselves.
And then comes the big lie:
And Fury said the governor’s office removed government workers from the equation.
“Historically, government jobs don’t tie to recessionary activity,” Fury said. “So when you’re talking about how are you coming back from a recession, government jobs are sort of an irrelevant data point” [Tupper, 2020.08.27].
Fury’s claim that “Historically, government jobs don’t tie to recessionary activity” is horsehockey in top hat and spats. Government provides the largest percentage of jobs in South Dakota—18.1% statewide, according to another of Cofer’s slides, and 25% in non-metro South Dakota. That’s significantly more dependence on socialist employment that the nationwide 15.0% rate of government employment.*
You can’t discount the recessionary impact of job losses in South Dakota’s biggest employment sector just to make the boss look good. Those six-figure checks aren’t irrelevant to Ian and Kristi and their Pierre neighbors. They sure aren’t irrelevant to Lynn’s Dakotamart, Runnings, Red Rossa, and the Cattleman’s Club.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4,400 fewer people working for government in South Dakota in July 2o20 than there were in July 2019. That’s a lot of South Dakotans in a lot of towns who had good, reliable paychecks and benefits last year who don’t right now. That means a lot of local businesses are seeing less economic activity than they would if those 4,400 public servants were still serving the public.
To review the main points Governor Noem gets risibly wrong:
- South Dakota has not recovered 80% or even 50% of the jobs lost since the onset of the coronavirus recession.
- Government jobs matter to during a recession.
- Government jobs matter even more in South Dakota, where a larger percentage of people, like Ian Fury, depend on government for their paychecks than in the rest of the country.
Especially in this time of crisis, South Dakotans really need a Governor who doesn’t lie to them. But the more time Kristi spends with Donald, the more she brings back to sneeze on us the real Trump virus of shameless, self-serving falsehood.
* I’m guessing that Mr. Cofer pulled his government-employment data from the June 2019 column of the BLS data, which shows government jobs making up 17.96% of South Dakota’s total nonfarm employment. In the People’s Republic of Minnesota, government provided only 14.36% of jobs in June 2019. In New York, 15.22%, In Communist California, 15.15%. In Massachusetts, 12.32%.