Noem Says 80 Percent Of Jobs Recovered, But Analyst Says 40 Percent

Aug 27, 2020

A slide from a presentation to the state Banking Commission.
Credit SD Banking Commission

Governor Kristi Noem says South Dakota has recovered most of the jobs it’s lost during the pandemic, but an analyst for the FDIC has different numbers.

Two weeks ago, Noem tweeted that South Dakota has regained 80 percent of its job losses.

Richard Cofer says the number’s only about 40 percent. He’s a Kansas City-based analyst with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Thursday, he briefed the state’s Banking Commission on the status of the South Dakota economy.

“South Dakota lost almost 42,000 jobs between February and April and has regained about 18,000," Cofer said, "so it still hasn’t recovered half of those jobs yet.”

Cofer’s analysis included private-sector and government employees.

Ian Fury is a spokesman for Gov. Noem. Fury said Noem’s numbers were calculated differently. Instead of using February as a starting point, he said the governor’s office used an annualized number from 2019.

And Fury said the governor’s office removed government workers from the equation.

“Historically, government jobs don’t tie to recessionary activity," Fury said. "So when you’re talking about how are you coming back from a recession, government jobs are sort of an irrelevant data point.”

Cofer's presentation showed that South Dakota is more dependent on government employment than some other states. About 18 percent of all non-farm employment in South Dakota is with the local, state or federal government. The national average is 15 percent.

-Seth Tupper is SDPB's business and economic development reporter.