S.D. governor gives state high marks in handling the pandemic. Are they deserved?

February 15, 2021 ☼ economypandemicsodak

Source: MinnPost - Link

Most of the metrics Noem’s office highlighted related to South Dakota’s economy. And, indeed, the state has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and ended the budget year with a $19 million surplus.

How did the state manage to pull that off during a pandemic?

Evert Van der Sluis, a professor of economics at South Dakota State University, said several factors helped. The state experienced less of an economic decline than initially projected at the start of the pandemic because of federal aid, conservative revenue projections and a multibillion-dollar investment in wind energy, he said.

South Dakota — where agriculture is the top industry — also benefited from billions of dollars in direct federal government payments to farmers, said Van der Sluis. While some of these payments were connected to the pandemic, others helped offset the financial losses caused by fallout from a U.S. trade dispute with China.

However, Van der Sluis said, these indicators don’t capture the depth of the damage caused by the pandemic.

As usual, the story is more complicated than the governor makes it out to be. However, a simple story plays well to the press and others. Noem knows that.