South Dakota unemployment recovers to near pre-pandemic rate

South Dakota unemployment rebounds to near pre-pandemic levels
Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 5:58 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Marcia Hultman watches the state’s employment numbers very closely. It’s her job.

“Things were clicking right along, and we literally referred to it in the department as a light switch was flipped in March and everything changed overnight,” said Hultman.

As the pandemic hit, the Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Labor and Regulation watched the unemployment rate go from 3.8% in January to 11% in April. Many South Dakotans are breathing a sigh of relief to see unemployment now nearing the pre-pandemic rate.

“We just have new numbers released today [Thursday] and we’re actually in South Dakota back down to 4.8% for the unemployment rate. So a great decrease again that’s happening fairly rapidly,” said Hultman.

Hultman is now watching record growth.

“There are literally help on at signs everywhere. As high as 20,000 job openings, and that’s the highest numbers I’ve ever seen,” said Hultman.

At the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, President and CEO Bob Mundt is cautiously optimistic.

“I’m starting to see that come back and you know that’s exciting,” said Mundt.

Those not able to return to their retail, restaurant, and hospitality jobs had to look elsewhere.

“Most folks are starting to find the opportunities available and some of the other positions that we have here and manufacturing and distribution and those types of things,” said Mundt.

There are jobs unfilled in South Dakota, Mundt says they search for new places traditionally and unconventionally.

“Minnesota is kind of a hot market for us right now you know we’re reaching out to people in Minneapolis and some of the other larger areas that don’t necessarily have the type of nice, you know, cooperative environment that we have here and it’s kind of reaching out to them and using Alumni Associations from some of our colleges, universities, tech schools to say, 'Look if you’ve ever thought about moving back to South Dakota, now’s the time,” said Mundt.

The rebound gained the attention of WalletHub, ranking South Dakota in sixth place nationwide for employment recovery.

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