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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Brookings Unemployment Lower than Lake County's for 19 Years

Friend and neighbor Chris Francis responds to my criticism of the Madison's economic development corporation by saying things aren't better elsewhere.

The data says, no, actually, things are better in Brookings (click image to enlarge):

Chart comparing unemployment rates in Brookings and Lake Counties, South Dakota, 1990-2009Annual Average Unemployment, 1990-2009
Brookings vs. Lake County, South Dakota
Data from South Dakota Department of Labor

For 19 straight years, Brookings has kept its unemployment rate lower than Lake County's, even through three recessions, including the current one.

Finding out why, explaining that to us, and fixing that disparity are what our economic development director Dwaine Chapel is paid $101,333 a year (as of 2008) to do. Maybe Chapel has done the first (he lives in Brookings, so the research shouldn't be hard), but he certainly hasn't done the second or the third.

Note also the comparison between the Lake County unemployment rate and the statewide rate. In the 1990s, we beat the state's unemployment rate (i.e., it was lower here) seven out of ten years. In the 2000s, we've beaten the state unemployment rate four times, each time by just 0.1 percentage points.


  1. Why isn't Dwaine's salary or some other type of incentive's package tied to Madison's economic success? Maybe salary him at 50K plus X bonus of up to 75K for success (i.e. some number of new jobs added)?

    We essentially do such things at our SD public universities (bringing in X dollars through grants equals pay bumps. So for every 100K I bring in the school gets ~30% as overhead and I get a pay bump). This is business, you don't pay someone to try. You pay someone for success.

  2. A side note. Scott Munsterman has been Mayor of Brookings throughout some of their most successful years of growth and low unemployment. He's a candidate for Governor. Check out his book, "A Vision For South Dakota" to find out how he can parlay his Brookings' success to the rest of our needy state.


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