...but hey, doesn't everybody?
Governor M. Michael Rounds pauses between holes at Dakota Dunes yesterday to assure us (and the businesspeople he's trying to coax into our state) that South Dakota's economy rocks. He does so by citing Bureau of Economic Analysis data that show South Dakota's GDP in 2008 trucked ahead at 5% in 2008. If I'm reading this right, the dollar amount by which our economy grew, $1.7 billion, was the tenth-highest raw increase and the third-highest percentage increase in the country.
That's not bad... but wait a minute: I've posted this data before, the day after BEA released it. Look at that map again:
Yes, we do rock, along with many of our prairie neighbors. But the percentage change in real GDP from 2007 to 2008 was only 3.5%. This map still shows us ranking third in the nation by percentage growth, and third is a good spot for humble German-Norwegian Lutherans who don't want to get a big head by being number one.
Governor Rounds and I are probably just reading different reports. But I wonder how much of that 5% happened at the front end of 2008, before the subprime lenders really hit the flush lever. Remember, by December, Governor Rounds was bemoaning lower-than-expected sales-tax revenues and saying the state didn't have the money to do anything. South Dakota's December data was so bad the governor felt compelled to propose a do-over budget with even more cuts. Is the Governor now saying he overreacted? If 2008 was such a rosy economic year for the state, why on earth did we have to rely on federal stimulus dollars to save our state budget?
Of course, these political questions aren't terribly relevant for the increasing number of South Dakotans looking for work. Even with more summer jobs available, our state unemployment rate rose last month to 5%. (Maybe that's the 5% the governor was thinking of... either that, or he was dwelling on a double-bogey on #8.)
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