The good ol’ days of ... 2008

South Dakota State Roundup

Published May 1, 2009  | May 2009 issue

Like its neighbor to the north, South Dakota is feeling the grip of recession after avoiding it longer than the vast majority of states.

For example, the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 3.7 percent in December to 5 percent in February. South Dakota's unemployment rate hasn't been that high since the late 1980s. Sectors once seen as well insulated are being affected. For example, the University of Sioux Falls announced that 20 employees will lose their jobs and remaining staff will see their pay reduced.

The wind industry was going gangbusters in South Dakota last year, but is now in "the year of the pause," an industry official told a local newspaper, in part because projects can't find financing. The once-booming ethanol industry has been gut-punched with a combined 250 million gallons of capacity sitting idle, according to local news reports, while others operate at less than full capacity.

On the bright side, about 400 to 450 construction workers will get busy this summer on a 2,100-mile oil pipeline winding its way through the state from Alberta, Canada, and eventually on to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma. Prep work was initiated last year and was expected to start up again in spring near Yankton.

Ronald A. Wirtz