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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Local Unemployment Down Again: Pierre Area Labor Market TIghtest

The good news: Lake County's unemployment rate dropped another half-percentage point in September to 5.8%. 35 more people jumped into the labor force, but we added 65 new jobs. Not bad!

The bad news: we're still well above Lake County's historical (since 1990) average unemployment of 3.3%. And statewide, the unemployment rate has dropped to 4.4%, a rate the rest of the country would envy and that some economists would argue is unnaturally and dangerously low. (A favored economist of our President felt otherwise.)

Our neighbors in Brookings continue to be the labor leaders in the surrounding seven-county area:

Area LaborForce Employment Unemployment Rate
Brookings County 19,135 18,530 605 3.20%
McCook County 2,830 2,705 125 4.50%
Minnehaha County 101,350 96,580 4,770 4.70%
Kingsbury County 2,900 2,755 145 5.10%
Miner County 1,250 1,180 70 5.70%
Lake County 6,810 6,415 395 5.80%
Moody County 4,000 3,755 245 6.10%

Stanley County is the current employment champ, with all but 2.1% of its workforce on the job. Among our major metropolitan areas, Pierre is best worker's market, with 2.6% unemployment.

Highest unemployment: Buffalo, Shannon, and Dewey counties. Watertown remains the toughest big town in which to find work, with unemployment at 6.5% (a half-point drop from August).


  1. Michael Black10/25/2009 7:53 AM

    I don't believe the numbers. How much do you figure that personal income has dropped over the last year.

  2. In Lake County, we're probably seeing more Underemployment, rather than full Unemployment.

    Many families are trying to survive on drastically cut hours and sporadic working weeks. Those figures don't necessarily reflect the lack of hours our employed who work in manufacturing are seeing each week.

    Yes, they're still employed, but barely. Family income is down dramatically for those workers.

    How do the employment figures, loss of jobs, underemployed families equate to goals of LAIC for the past two years? At what point do we do something different as a community? Perhaps try to lure service industries instead of manufacturing, or a combination of both.

  3. Good points on personal income: being employed by a technical definition doesn't matter of you aren't earning enough to pay the bills and fill the city's coffers with sales tax.

    Rod, you asked about the Forward Madison goals. When the LAIC announced the program in October 2006, one goal was to create 400 new jobs by 2012. The article refers to a "five-year plan"—Stalin jokes welcome!—so I assume they mean by Jan. 1, 2012.

    According to the SD Department of Labor, in October 2006, Lake County had 6,685 employed workers out of a workforce of 6,875 (2.7% unemployed).

    Since then, our job count has exceeded 6,685 during seven months: Apr-May 2007, Sep-Nov 2007, and Apr-May 2008. The highest count was May 2007, 6,855 jobs.

    Three years into the five-year plan, the Sep. 2009 numbers show 6,415 employed workers out of a workforce of 6,810 (5.8% unemployed). We are down 270 jobs from Oct 2006. The LAIC needs to create 670 jobs in the next 26 months to meet its Forward Madison job creation goal.

    The LAIC had better hope the federal stimulus works.

    I also note with interest that, from 1995 to 2005, the Lake County economy was already adding an average of 470 jobs every five years. The Forward Madison goal of adding 400 jobs in five years was aspiring to do worse than the historical trend.


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