Hot on the heels of Governor Rounds's decision to take Scott Heidepriem's advice and accept the full $47 million in stimulus dollars Uncle Sam is offering to help with Medicare and education, the New York Times reports that South Dakotans are already the second-biggest recipients of stimulus dollars per capita. As of May, each one of us has received $1781 in stimulus (funny, I don't feel stimulated).
The only state more stimulated than South Dakota: Alaska. Sarah Palin's rootin'-tootin' independent-minded neighbors have hauled in $3145 in stimulus dollars per person.
NYT's Michael Powell points out a curious pattern of really red, anti-federal government states like Alaska, the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Louisiana raking in big stimulus dollars and federal aid and enjoying low unemployment.
Pro Publica provides a full sortable chart here. As I run some quick numbers, I find almost no mathematical correlation between the amount of stimulus per person and the April 2009 unemployment rates, the April 2010 unemployment rates, or the change in unemployment rate between those dates. However, I do find a slightly positive (0.37-0.39) correlation between total stimulus dollars delivered per state and April 2009 and 2010 unemployment rates, which suggests at least some sensible targeting of the stimulus dollars to the places with the highest unemployment. But these casual spreadsheet calculations, along with the fact that low-unemployment South Dakota has raked in big aid per capita, suggest we could be targeting our stimulus dollars better. Maybe Mike Rounds, Bobby Jindal, and other governors of low-unemployment states should have stuck by their guns, rejected all of the federal stimulus dollars, and sent them to places that needed the assistance more.
By the way, taxable sales in South dakota dropped 1.5% for FY2010. Taxable sales over the same period dropped 9% in Madison. If we each hadn't had an extra $1781 in our pockets from Uncle Sam, how much worse would those sales figures have been? And (cynical question, but worth chewing over at lunch) if South Dakota had received no stimulus dollars at all and the entire state economy had collapsed, would anyone in New York or Washington have noticed?
Bonus stimulus model: The Displaced Plainsman brings to our attention an alternative model for stimulus spending: our German friends poured money into keeping people in jobs rather than supporting them once unemployed. The causality is surely more complicated, but Germany could see 9% economic growth this year.
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