Economic News

South Dakota Scores Lowest Unemployment Rate for May 2016

By Matt Johnson

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics recently released its unemployment rates for all 50 states plus the District of Columbia for the month of May. For the second month in a row, South Dakota, New Hampshire, and Nebraska retain their respective first, second, and third place positions.

What is the unemployment rate? Well it is the percent of those who do not participate in the work force. Mathematically, it is the labor force minus the number of employed, divided by the labor force, and multiplied by 100 percent. Or another way to look at how one can obtain the unemployment rate is by taking the number of unemployed, dividing that number by the labor force, and then multiplying that decimal number by 100 percent. Here’s a visual.

unemployment rate

What does this mean for South Dakota? This means that it has the lowest number of unemployed workers with respect to its total labor force. Why might this be? One reason might be the oil boom that has been happening now for past few years and the type of labor force that is demanded for such an industry. According to The Fiscal Times, workers in the industry range from drilling consultant to stimulation supervisor, while the annual salaries range from $238,697 to $101,703. In addition, many of the types of jobs require an engineering or science degree. In general, higher wages and educational level mean greater job stability.

Another reason might be the policies that are being implemented by the state governments. As the table illustrates, the governor of South Dakota is a republican (R); whereas, the governor of New Hampshire is a democrat (D). But three of the top five unemployment rates are in states with governors who are democrats. However, seven of the top ten governors are republicans. So is it industry or policies? Or is it a combination to the two? Those are questions for the reader to ponder.


May 2016 – Unemployment
Rank State Rate PA
1 South Dakota 2.5 R
2 New Hampshire 2.7 D
3 Nebraska 3 R
4 Vermont 3.1 D
5 Hawaii 3.2 D
5 North Dakota 3.2 R
7 Colorado 3.4 D
8 Maine 3.5 R
9 Idaho 3.7 R
9 Kansas 3.7 R
Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics


**Remember, there is nothing more American than discourse. You are always welcome to post your comments, thoughts, and questions below. 

Copyright ©2016 – The Systems Scientist

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