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SD Job and Income Growth Falling Behind National Figures; Housing Slows

The Bureau of Finance and Management issued it latest report on South Dakota's economy Wednesday. How're we doing?

  1. As of November 2014, our non-farm employment was up 3,000 jobs, 0.7%, over November 2013. Financial activities, education and health, and leisure and hospitality shed jobs.
  2. Nationally over the same period, non-farm employment was up 2.0%.
  3. In 2013, our per capita personal income was 19th in the nation and $1,400 above the national average. Funny that we don't value teachers enough to ensure they rank similarly in pay.
  4. In Q3 2014, our personal income grew at 1.8% compared to a national growth rate of 3.9%. Farms are dragging us down: farm income dropped 20.8%, while non-farm income matched the national rate at 4.1%.
  5. Over the last 12 months covered by the report, family housing permits dropped 12.6% over the previous 12 months. Total value in those permits dropped 4.2% (about $24 million).
  6. The number of newly permitted Minnehaha County family units dropped 10.5% but increased in value by 2.4% (about $6 million).
  7. The number of newly permitted Pennington County family units dropped 45.6% and decreased in value by 27.3% (about $25 million).


  1. Troy 2015.01.09


    I've always advocated analyzing the SD economy where data is presented in a pro forma basis using a five year average for farm income. Its volatility (yield, prices) can have farm income doesn't allow one to easily grasp what is going on both in the short-term and long-term trends.

    Whether this is an anecdote or indicative of the drop in aggregate farm income this year is this particular situation. I know of one farmer who was unable to sell grain because of both storage at the elevator and access to rail cars. The cost of using a truck made him decide to retain the grain. I didn't get to pursue why he didn't sell under a contract for later delivery which know is an option (might be related to a discount, logistics, or some other reason).

  2. Don Coyote 2015.01.09

    Data doesn't show Lincoln County newly permitted family units. Much of Sioux Falls growth is happening south of 57th street so much so that Harrisburg is looking to building a 5th elementary school in Sioux Falls and Tea is looking at building their first school within Sioux Falls.

  3. Nick Nemec 2015.01.09

    Troy, you have a valid point about the volatility of farm income. Failure to realize this is a big part of the reason the SD tax collections recovered faster than Gov. DD predicted after his "austerity" budget and also why tax collections this year are falling so short. Farm income has next to nothing to do with state governmental policy and over the years I've seen nearly every governor claim credit at one time or another for increased tax collections due solely to increased farm income.

    Your farmer friend didn't try too hard to sell his grain. I've found that if one elevator isn't buying there's always another nearby willing to buy. He needs to also consider that the cost of storage, even in his own bins, isn't free. You run the risk of grain going out of condition, it costs money to run fans to prevent out of condition grain. Plus there is the time value of money to consider, especially if he's operating on borrowed money.

  4. Troy 2015.01.09


    And Governor's blamed for decreased tax collections because of farm income.

    Regarding the "friend" (more an acquaintance who I ran into). The context was "how was your year?" "Pretty good but would have been better if I could have gotten some grain sold by year-end." and then talked about not being able to deliver. Like I said, it could just be an anecdote and I might have missed the context.

  5. Nick Nemec 2015.01.09

    I agree Troy, governors of any state have very little impact on farm income. The factors in control there are many pay levels above any governor. Governors should not be held accountable for those tax collection decreases caused by falling farm income and shouldn't claim credit for their wonderful policies increasing tax collections when those increased collections are caused by improving farm income. Sadly since governors are politicians and not accountants or economists they unfairly take the credit every time but readily pass off the blame off to the real cause when convenient for the narrative they want published.

    Was the not able to deliver a time issue? I've learned that if you want grain delivered before year end you better get it done in the first 3 weeks of December. Elevators often close for long weekends over the Christmas and New Year's holidays, after ungodly long hours 7 days a week often since wheat harvest in July and extending to the wrapping up of corn harvest in early December the crews need some time off. I don't begrudge them that time and plan my year end deliveries of grain accordingly.

  6. Nick Nemec 2015.01.09

    The annual year end madness, in the middle of the holiday season, that farmers go through shifting income or expenses from one year to another is one reason I've incorporated my farm and use a March 1-Feb. 28 corporate year.

  7. leslie 2015.01.09

    personal experience/wisdom/professional advice-priceless. anecdotal evidence-not so much.

  8. Troy 2015.01.09


    The point is the year-to-year farm income is volatile. In addition to yield and price, famers have the ability to sell nothing one year and the next sell two years of crops.

    All I know is that grain inventory in SD is near or at record levels. Because of a anecdotal and chance conversation, the subject of this thread stimulated a question if part of the drop in farm income (increase in stockpiles) was this anecdote is representative of a common occurrence where sale of grain (and thus recognized farm income) might also be impacted by a lack of ability to get the grain delivered or the discount to sell and store (not recognize income) was extraordinarily high at this time.

    Nick, I wonder why more farmers don't use a non-calendar fiscal year. Do you know? Does it change when you have to have your personal taxes done? Or are you transferring the "crazy" time pressure to your accountant? :)

  9. leslie 2015.01.09

    troy-when fox news listeners populate republican talking points around, like your pro-KXL anecdote and DQ's raising blizzard prices because undeserving, untrained, poor low wage employees finally get a raise because of government regulation, pinching small business owners who like to bitch to dd, barbie, ken and newbie (who likely listen and then implement cruel or environment-hating reactions pursuant to a GOP master plan that pampers the 1% so they too, inexplicably, can become nearer to the 1%), we dems respectfully disagree, and disrespectfully so when you blow dog-whistles like these. we are not attacking you personally, its the republican talking points, that are wrong, that republicans inhale and then regurgitate. you, les, grudz and a few others do so regularly here (thus it may feel personal). cowboy-up! fcs...:(

  10. Troy 2015.01.09


    Wow. I state a premise (year-to-year farm income is volatile and can mislead with regard to making an assessment of SD income), Nick agrees, I ask a question, Nick gives some context for me to assess the anecdote, and you go off on every nearly every liberal talking point.

    The only reason I addressed you directly is I had a sincere question based on an anecdote. I didn't want your dissing of an anecdote to prevent me from getting an answer, an answer that is relevant to the thread. I'm sorry you take offense so easily.

    I know you suggest all the time conservatives shouldn't come here because we mess with your group think salon but the owner of this site encourages diverse thought and commentary.

  11. Steve Sibson 2015.01.09

    "Nick, I wonder why more farmers don't use a non-calendar fiscal year."

    Troy, I believe has individuals, they are stuck to calendar year. They would have to incorporate in order to change their fiscal year status. Perhaps most to like that option.

  12. larry kurtz 2015.01.09


  13. Steve Sibson 2015.01.09

    Larry, are you talking about my typos?

  14. Troy 2015.01.09


    I think you are right it wouldn't change individual filing. Didn't think my question through on that point. But, I think most farmers are incorporated now and thus can pick there FYE. Just wondering why more don't do as Nick does. Just moving to 1-31 seems like solving a lot of issues but maybe there is a downside to it I can't think of. But, if every farmer did it, it might even make year-to-year farm income even more volatile.

    Which goes back to my original comment: Wouldn't we be more able to assess the state's economy where farm income was presented as an average?

  15. Bill Fleming 2015.01.09

    ( Sidenote. Feel free to ignore it. It kinda scares me that Troy understood what Sibby wrote. LOL.)

  16. larry kurtz 2015.01.09

    Look on the bright side: South Dakota leads the nation in life sentences for sex traffickers.

  17. Daniel Buresh 2015.01.09

    leslie, The only thing you are doing is interrupting positive dialogue between opposing sides....while at the same time looking like a hypocrite.

  18. larry kurtz 2015.01.09

    Those aren't typos, Steve: they're evidence of your being illiterate. My editorial comment was on Troy's serial elitist pontification.

  19. larry kurtz 2015.01.09

    And Troy has the uncanny knack of polishing the turd of the sow whose ear was made into a silk purse: South Dakota is a failed state by every measure.

  20. Troy 2015.01.09

    Bill, I'm getting real good at reading mis-auto correct and fat finger typos on phones. A new skill I've developed.

    Daniel, I don't consider Nick and I on opposing sides (even in disagreement politically). If Nick, Bill and I spent an evening on deck, we would mostly agree and Nick would disagree with Bill as much as me because we'd be talking about what guys talk about sitting on a deck- sports, books, what is happening in Paris, the Kimball stand-off, our wives and children, and what it is like getting old.

    Now, back to my question: Has the difficulty getting grain out of the state materially impacted the reported farm income?

  21. larry kurtz 2015.01.09

    oh, and painting lipstick on that sow.

  22. Greg 2015.01.09

    I think the easiest way assess farm income would be to drive by farm implement dealers lots and take note on their inventory. The lots are full of carry over combines and tractors that were not sold. For each one the state will be short $12,000.00 to $15,000.00 of sales tax revenue which will be noticed in the coming year.

  23. mike from iowa 2015.01.09

    Just get rid of farms/farmers-problem solved. See how easy that was?

  24. Les 2015.01.09

    Well somebody here must be responsible, leslie, Cory, for the $7 corn that ain't no more. The used equipment bargains of the last couple of years had lots full. It has to be new, used or nothing on the lot.

  25. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.09

    Today the Department of Labor released the following information:
    2014 had the best jobs growth since 1999. 2.9 million jobs were created this year.
    Unemployment fell to 5.6% in December 2014, a big drop from the 6.7% rate in December 2013.
    Unemployment is expected to drop to its normal rate of 5.2% by the end of 2015.
    As John Tristan over at Constant Commoner predicted, Mitch McConnell is claiming Republican credit for these positive numbers (my laugh here).

  26. Nick Nemec 2015.01.09

    Troy, my personal income tax return is due April 15 the same as everyone else, I make quarterly estimated payments. It's only the corporate tax where I was able to establish a fiscal year different from the calendar year.

    Since my corporate fiscal year beginning is March 1 the corporation has a later filing date. That later filing date actually lets my CPA spread out his tax work and lessens his big crush leading up to April 15.

    The big drop in farm income has very little to do with any difficulties shipping grain out of the state and everything to do with world wide grain prices falling due to increased supply relative to demand. The Chicago Board of Trade sets price, the basis (cost of shipping) fluctuates but is only a minor portion of price. Of the three elevators within 10 miles of my farm two will take nearly any grain that shows up, the third is a smaller operation and is much fussier. In general if I need to move grain I can provided it's one of the 5 big commodities grown in this area, hard red winter wheat, hard red spring wheat, corn, soybeans, black oil sunflowers. Hard white winter wheat, chick peas, lentils, safflower, milo, field peas, confectionary sunflowers are all minor crops in my area and most elevators don't handle them. If someone grows them they need to have a marketing plan in place ahead of time.

  27. Jenny 2015.01.09

    It just doesn't make sense when there are still millions starving all over the world.

  28. Nick Nemec 2015.01.09

    I'm not sure how many are starving around the world but I'm doing everything I can to lessen that number.

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.09

    Donyote, if there's growth in Lincoln County, it evidently didn't outweigh the statewide shrinkage.

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.09

    Troy, I agree that really understanding the health of the state economy requires a wider view than any one economic report. There is valuable data in yearlies, but with the volatility you rightly cite, we only get the full picture from broader averages. When I'm governor, I will happily appoint you to my board of economic advisors.

  31. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.09

    Nick, Troy, I'm curious: are there other industries that are as volatile as agriculture? Suppose I were trying to engineer the most stable state economy in America: what five industries would I want to promote, and what five industries would I want to avoid?

  32. Troy 2015.01.09


    Volatility is in some ways an arbitrary term because it depends on a measuring stick that begins and ends unrelated to anything but needing to measure. Agriculture might be highly volatile year-to-year but over time maybe it is one of the most stable industries. I'm not sure one can do better than agriculture over the long-haul. What industry was big in 1776 and remains big today? Agriculture because there isn't likely a technological change that will make eating unnecessary.

    Rightly, we often criticize Wall Street for its quarterly focus instead of long-term. That is my only comment: I think if we want to assess SD's economy, annual measures are pretty good as a measuring stick, except with regard to agriculture. It's like trying to assess a public company based on one quarter's results.

    Now to your question. Stability is not a high priority goal in my opinion. Ethiopia has been extremely stable for 200 years. Long-term growth is the best way to improve people's lives. And, personally, I don't think the government can engineer anything positive long-term (Soviets proved that).

  33. larry kurtz 2015.01.09

    Without the feds South Dakota would have been evacuated long ago turd polishing notwithstanding. Troy and his party are lucky to working at all, let alone tying up the office phones trying to play the quiz.

  34. Nick Nemec 2015.01.09

    I'm not sure how much government can engineer an economy. The two examples that come to mind are the expansion of the USD School of Medicine from a 2 year school to a 4 year school during the Kneip administration. Many people in the medical field credit that with kick starting the medical industry in Sioux Falls. Letting the credit card industry rewrite the SD laws on banking and interest rates during the Janklow administration enticed that industry to relocate to SD rather than some other state. Both of those were decisions made by a governor that helped the SD economy grow but arguably neither caused the US economy, as a whole, to grow any more than it would have otherwise.

    I think possibly the best a governor can do is insure his state has a well educated work force, and not sell that workforce short when he/she cheerleads for the state. Well paid workers have more money to spend in the economy, more money spent means greater tax collections.

  35. grudznick 2015.01.09

    Mr. Nemec, you seem to be saying that those things would have happened anyway but Mr. Kneip and Mr. Janklow shifted them into happening in South Dakota. Perhaps state governments cant really affect the US economy unless they invent flying cars or magic beans, but they can shift where things happen and make them happen in their own back yards. Indeed, the winner of the shifting game probably ends up with a happier state. That's why Mr. Perpich was so grumpy back then.

  36. grudznick 2015.01.09

    There's an idea out there floating around some libbie circles and also being considered by a bulk of the good teachers in most towns. They are thinking that the best way to get more money for good teachers is to stop whining and tell the Democrats in the legislature to be quiet. Then when the Republicans come up with the idea to raise money for the good teachers it will pass overwhelmingly. The problem today is that because the libbies float it the conservatives smack it down, so if you let the conservatives bring it up and run with it to the barn it would pass.

  37. larry kurtz 2015.01.09

    Why Dems go to Pierre for any reason remains a mystery.

  38. Owen 2015.01.09

    That would be great Grud if the Republicans would do that. They aren't going to do that. Education isn't a primary concern for the Republicans.

  39. Wayne Pauli 2015.01.09

    I had a career as an Ag banker in SD and MN. The saying we used was that it was the only industry that we had that bought all inputs at retail and sold all product at wholesale. Minimum wage goes up so the DQ raises the blizzard price by .20...Ag cannot do that...but they can eat the higher priced blizzard.

  40. o 2015.01.09

    grudznick, how many teachers in SD deserve a raise - how many "good" ones?

  41. Owen 2015.01.09

    How do you decide who the "good ones" are o?

  42. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.01.09

    I agree with Troy's remark about the volatility of ag commodity prices. It's playing out everywhere, including MN.

    Wayne said, " . . . only industry that we had that bought all inputs at retail and sold all product at wholesale." My parents, central SD farmers, said it this way: "Farming is the only industry that doesn't say, 'This is what it will cost you to buy my product.' Instead farmers ask, 'What will you give me for my product?' "

    It really burned them. We, and our neighbors, struggled financially a great deal. In the 1960s they became quite active in the Hand County National Farmers Organization. They participated in various actions, recruited members, and participated in the demonstration in Miller in the latter years of that decade. (I don't know the exact year. I wonder how many political demonstrations have occurred in Miller? Darn few, I'd guess.)

    In another decade plus many farmers, including my parents, lost their farms in the Reagan decimation.

    (I think I've commented on this before. It was a family-, community- and industry-wide wound that I've learned to live with. But the memory of what that did to all those people means my grief does not disappear.)

  43. o 2015.01.09

    Owen, that was part of my question to Grudznink.

    If a plan were to give all teachers who achieve a proficient benchmark on the new state evaluation (an evaluation that SDEA and DOE have worked together to create for SD) would be one thing; to try to sneak in some competitive merit pay scheme that only rewards the top X% of teachers would be another.

    Not to be flippant, but I believe the direct answer to your question Owen, is that we know who the good teachers are: they are the ones that hold jobs in SD. Any others certainly would have been released by administrators doing their jobs (evaluating and improving their teaching staffs).

  44. grudznick 2015.01.09

    Owen, and Mr. o, I think we leave it up to these really, really smart teachers to set up criteria and a method to define the good teachers. Everybody knows who the good teachers are in their town. Everybody knows who the good teachers they had as a kid are. It is the teachers themselfs who need to flex their significant brains and show us how we should measure their performance, after all the whining on

    If every other profession on the face of the world can show who is a good one and who is not as good then I have faith that these smart deserving teachers, or maybe the fat cat overpaid administrators who are so good at parking in their cushy free parking spots can come up with an idea.

    We pay the fatcat administrators salaries that are insaner than Sibby's stepsister, but they can't figure out how to rate their employees. Somebody needs to throw the flag in the air that signals the cows to poop. Or the whole bunch of them needs to quit whining. I'm just sayin...

  45. 96Tears 2015.01.10

    The plan is not working. Why? Because there is no plan to grow South Dakota's economy, unless you're one of the weasels who's in the clic. Then you can fill your pockets, Bollen-style!

  46. Wayne pauli 2015.01.10

    I can relate Deb...I can relate...Tripp County is much like Hand. The memories are painful. I just completed a new 5 year lease with a tenant...Hard on my heart...wish I did not have to do it.

  47. o 2015.01.10

    grudznick, you continue to perpetuate a myth: that the evaluation system created by teachers and adopted for state pilot this year doesn't exist. We have been there and done that on evaluation tools and processes. there was no whining (unless you had a typo and meant to write "winning" - as the referendum saw those issues the way my professional organization and the vast majority of teachers of this start did); we moved straight to action, but all too many still perpetuate the myth that teachers fear high standards and excellence in their professional work. We do not fear either, and we facilitate both.

    Now, when the specter, the boogieman of the "bad teacher" that allows you and others to balk at improved teacher salaries, now will things change? Or do you continue your false narrative because it suits your underlying policy aims of keeping taxes low by underfunding valuable state programs?

  48. grudznick 2015.01.10

    Ms. o, you misunderstand. I want to give raises to good teachers, and I want them to sort themselves out into an order so we can start with the best. The teachers know how to sort themselves out.

  49. o 2015.01.10

    grudznick, my question remains, now that we can "sort," how deep do you want to go with raises? Do all our good teachers get raises? The top 1% . . . Or are you willing to see the teacher shortage crisis for what it is - that it means we have lost our ability to place a band-aid/partial/selective fix on a state-wide, decades-long crisis?

    (And it's Mr. btw)

  50. jerry 2015.01.10

    It looks to me like a combination of poor working conditions, paired with low wages along with the overbearing attitude of the ruling class of right wing fanatics in South Dakota, make our young want to leave here pronto. The wing nuts need to tone it down some, but as they are what they are, not anytime soon. We have one of the best schools in the world for engineering and an infrastructure like a war torn third world country. But there is always this nonsense.

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