A Look at Local and National Unemployment
National job growth cools slightly but recovery grinds on. US employers closed out 2012 by maintaining the relatively slow pace of job creation seen over the past two years. Payrolls grew 155,000 last month, but the unemployment rate remained at 7.8%. Local economist Dr. John C. Quinn emphasizes, "Any improvement is to be welcomed and of course the big question will be do we have a follow through given the fact that the country may only grow 2% this year and considering new taxes that are coming in. We hope that going forward we make a little more dent in that 7.8%"
Two factors late in 2012 might have contributed to the steady rate of unemployment: fear of the fiscal cliff and super storm sandy. "But that could actually be a benefit in 2013 because we're going to have to plow billions of dollars into reconstruction, so that'll be a lot of jobs created by all this money being appropriated for that."
Today the house and senate passed a bill approving more than nine billion dollars in aid for regions impacted by super storm sandy. "The other good news - of course- is that South Dakota has the third lowest unemployment rate in the country. So jobs in South Dakota are still pretty plentiful. Very good people are hard to find. And in North Dakota, with this oil boom, they've got 3% unemployment rate which is almost fractional."
South Dakota's economy tends to avoid the big peaks and valleys the rest of the country faces. That's partly because years ago the state avoided the housing boom - and crisis - that crippled many states. Dr. Quinn continues, "South Dakota is in very good fiscal shape. We have a budget in this state of only about four billion dollars. For the whole state…that's about as much as we have in debt added to the national debt every single day of the week."
Although pleased with the state's economy... Rapid City Mayor, Sam Kooiker is concerned about the locally unemployed, "There are people still hurting in our community and that's something we're aware of and we're concerned about. We do have a relatively low unemployment with approximately 4%. However unemployment is still an issue for our community. And that's something that we'll continue to focus on."