SD Economy Growing, Outperforming National Economy

Sen. Mike Rounds along with a panel of experts discussed the optimistic outlook

With one of the lowest unemployment and tax rates, South Dakota’s economy is outperforming the rest of the nation.

The findings came after USA Today, Wells Fargo and Argus Leader Media collaborated on a nation-wide economic survey.

To further the discussion the organizations held a congressional forum with U.S. Senator Mike Rounds and local economic experts Wednesday, who all agreed on the state’s optimistic economic outlook- attributing it to the diligent workforce.

“There’s a work ethic here which is a solid one,” says Sen. Rounds. “They will take on more than one job to make ends meet.” 

The pool of opportunity is helping as well. 

“On average during the month of April, for the SD Department of Labor website for job listings, there were over 13,700 opportunities each day for South Dakotans to look at,” says Greg Johnson, the manager of the Sioux Falls office of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation.

But it’s a little bit of a catch 22.

With a low employment rate at 2.7 percent, Rounds says new businesses may see this as a lack of available employees.

“We have to share with them that there are people doing multiple jobs right now,” explains Sen. Rounds. “We have to tell them if you offer full time they will come, and you will have a solid work force.” 

Sen. Rounds says the top job sector helping out the state’s economy, while it is fluctuating, is agriculture. 

“If they’re doing well, they spend money,” says Sen. Rounds. “They buy pickups, they buy tractors, they buy other equipment and they’re supporting their local communities.” 

Health Care, education, construction and retail are the next in line.

But one expert says there’s one more industry the state needs to tap into; and that’s bio-sciences. 

“We know those jobs are really good paying jobs, they pay on average $88,000 a year,” says Pat Costello, commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “That’s a great paying job in south Dakota.”

The state has seen some third party validation on the growing economy as well.

The U.S. Chamber Tax Foundation ranked South Dakota second for best tax climate in 2015, Forbes Magazine ranked us one of the best states for business, and WalletHub declared South Dakota the third best place to retire.