South Dakota’s continued to rack up coronavirus deaths through October about as fast as it did a year ago, but our covid-recklessness appears to have bought us economic results. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis writes a glowing report about South Dakota’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, noting that South Dakota is outperforming other Fed Ninth District states in real GDP growth and employment. One factor that may explain both our swifter economic recovery and our dogged coronavirus impacts is that South Dakotans can’t afford to stay home from work:
One reason for the state’s comparatively stronger employment trend appears to stem from its labor force participation. Across the country, labor force participation fell with the onset of the pandemic, rebounded only partially in most states, and has remained mostly flat this year.
South Dakota’s labor force participation took a similarly steep initial hit early in the pandemic but was fairly quick to fully rebound. Aside from a brief hiccup late last year, the state’s labor force participation rate has either matched or exceeded the pre-pandemic rate for close to a full year. The state now boasts the highest labor force participation rate in the Ninth District and one of the highest in the country [Haley Chinander, “South Dakota’s Economy Bounces Back,” Federal Reserver Bank of Minnesota, 2021.10.27].
It’s great to have a humming economy. But let’s remember: this economy hums on the sacrifice of human life. South Dakota really is a business-über-alles state, and that includes business über leben.