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Minneapolis Fed: South Dakota Economy Leads Regional Recovery, Thanks to Higher Labor Participation

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.


  1. mike from iowa 2021-11-10 11:00

    Good to know since drumpf is still potus we can blame him for inflation woes.

  2. jerry 2021-11-10 12:06

    Good one mfi. Yep, this is just another tempest in a tea cup.

  3. Donald Pay 2021-11-10 13:18

    Labor force participation in the Upper Midwest states has always been higher than the rest of the country. Mostly it’s because women in the Midwest work at higher levels than in other parts of the country.

  4. ArloBlundt 2021-11-10 14:18

    Well…the workforce in South Dakota has a significant percentage of individuals with multiple paid positions…households have three and four or more jobs…with the hourly wage being among the lowest in the country, one could assume that the workforce is efficient and a bargain for employers..Cheap, efficient labor is a South Dakota Value that tends to work against the interests of the employee.

  5. O 2021-11-10 14:24

    ArloBlundt, I believe you are describing the “right to work” in a nutshell.

    SD employment is becoming the dirty stall in the bathroom – one look, and maybe you don’t have to go that bad.

  6. WillyNilly 2021-11-10 14:43

    Some years ago while I was working at my second job, I learned that one of my co-workers actually had 3 jobs. She had a teen at home and a disabled husband. She was trying to keep them all fed and housed and the kid in school. I thought my situation was poor because I was working to pay off student loans. I saw the light and decided to leave the state so I could actually earn more than subsistence wages.

  7. mike from iowa 2021-11-10 15:16

    How many of the employed are not citizens of the USA? Bet bunches of them are guest workers magats proclaim hate for.

  8. Mark Anderson 2021-11-10 16:12

    Yes Steve Pearson, who cares that Biden in less than one year, kicked Trumps two year economic record in everything. You should worry however, your very thoughts are inflated.

  9. jerry 2021-11-10 17:04

    Maybe we should curb our driving to help drive down costs. Eat less pork and beef and more stuff from our gardens. Savvy cooks can do wonders. Also, cut down on school activities that mean the family vehicle must be on the road going to and from school functions. Or maybe, we could demand our legislators do something about it.

    Don’t blame Biden. Dude has not been on the job that long and that tax cut stuff has finally come home to roost. Biden will sign a trillion dollar deal that will help South Dakota. Can’t wait to hear Steve Pearson sing its praise.

  10. grudznick 2021-11-11 22:35

    The slackards need to get out and get to work. Half the restaurants in Rapid City are only filling half their tables because there aren’t enough waitresses. That’s a 25% drop in seating for dining out, and that means a longer wait for those of us who like to dine out.

  11. ArloBlundt 2021-11-11 23:40

    Grudz…there’s plenty of employment opportunities out there and low wage jobs go begging…One problem in South Dakota is the workforce is old….they’ve already retired but will return to work if the wages merit the costs of getting and keeping a job, including relocation…but the older guys and gals aren’t going back to work, especially in a high risk to get Covid job,especially if the wages are slim…they are not just looking for something to do. Lack of child care and the expense of child care keeps a lot of potential waitresses at home.Women have become pretty creative about creating their own part time gig from home…..Look around at the remaining workforce, Grudz, a lot of them are our age.

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