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Madison, Brookings Jobs Spurt in September; State Sags on End of Tourism

Lake County enjoyed a nice September employment boomlet. According to South Dakota Department of Labor statistics, Lake County added 210 jobs from August to September, for a total of 6420. With 170 new workers joining the active labor force of 6695, the county's unemployment rate dropped from 4.8% to 4.1%. That's the lowest unemployment rate our county has seen since November 2008.

Wow! If Lake County could replicate that job creation figure for October, November, and December, it could beat the Lake Area Improvement Corporation's five-year job-creation goal of 7065 jobs by the end of 2011.

But expect our local economic development leaders to continue to conspicuously ignore that goal (which was really just a continuation of status-quo trends). Madison appears to get a regular jobs bump in September, keep chugging through October, then send workers home after the harvest.

Compare our September bump to trends elsewhere in South Dakota. Lake County saw a September jump of 2.6% in workers and 3.4% in jobs. At the same time, our Brookings neighbors saw workers increase by 5.1% and jobs by 6.4%. Down in Vermillion, workers increased 10.1% and jobs 11.5%. Aberdeen job figures tend to stay flat from August to September.

Any college bump in Spearfish gets washed out by the loss of tourism jobs: this year, Spearfish saw its September workforce count slide 2.4% and jobs 2.1%. That September slide is reflected in Rapid City (down in September 4.1% in workers and 3.8% in jobs). Overall, while Madison and Brookings usually gain in September, South Dakota sees a regular decline of more than 1% in jobs as kids head back to college.