South Dakota Continues Record Unemployment Streak, Despite Uptick to 4.5 Percent

The Mount Rushmore State has now gone more than 27 years without eclipsing the 5 percent jobless mark – best in the nation

The South Dakota Department of Labor announced the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased slightly last month – up from 4.4 percent in October to 4.5 percent in November.

While the job markets of both South and North Dakota are well-known to have been least hit by the current recession, the Mount Rushmore State’s healthy employment trend dates back decades.

A Smart Politics review of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics historical employment data finds South Dakota has now extended its best-in-the-nation streak of keeping its jobless rate from eclipsing 5.0 percent for a record 27 years and four months.

The last time South Dakota’s jobless rate rose above 5 percent was July 1983, when it hit 5.2 percent – as it continued to drop from a peak of 6.0 percent during the recession of the early 1980s.

During the current recession, South Dakota peaked at 5.0 percent in May 2009.

And just how remarkable is this steady unemployment trend in South Dakota?

By comparison, 47 states and the District of Columbia all currently have unemployment rates over 5 percent.

Only South Dakota, Nebraska, and North Dakota are below the 5 percent mark.

Nebraska holds the second longest such streak in the nation. The Cornhusker State – with a 4.7 percent jobless rate in October – last passed the 5 percent unemployment mark 24 years and 6 months ago in April 1986 (5.1 percent).

North Dakota – which currently has the lowest jobless rate in the U.S. at 3.7 percent in October – has the third longest streak in the nation for holding its unemployment rate at or below 5 percent at 23 years (October 1987).

Nebraska and North Dakota will release their November employment numbers later this week.

South Dakota’s unemployment rate for November is now 5.3 points less than that of the nation overall (9.8 percent) – tied for the state’s second largest gap versus the nationwide average, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data dating back to January 1976.

Only the 5.5-point gap in October 2009 between South Dakota (4.7 percent) and the nation overall (10.2 percent) was larger.

There were also 5.3-point gaps in November and December 2009.

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