|The Just-Released Report|
There are lies, damn lies, statistics and economic reports
(photo from www.sdreadytowork.com
My conclusion from the data isn't quite as effervescent as that of its authors, Governor Daugaard and his staff at GOED, mainly because I don't see how the growth rates touted in the report translate into better economic numbers for us rank-and-file South Dakotans. For one thing, in his quintessentially and admirably wonkish fashion, Cory Heidelberger over at Dakota Free Press (nee Madville Times) compares the value of South Dakota's public school teachers to the value of our state's overall economy and comes up with a conclusion that's the equivalent of a bronx cheer for our state's elected officials: Cory's excellent analysis concludes that the growth of teacher salaries has been so far outpaced by the growth of our economy that the relative value of teachers to our economy has actually declined by 20% during the past decade.
As to the whiz-bang growth of the state's Gross Domestic Product, it should be pretty obvious that the upthrust has come about because of the startling appreciation in grain and livestock prices during the period (2004-2013) covered by the report. That's all well and good, of course, as our farmers and ranchers are, on the whole, among the most outstanding and dedicated bunch of folks I've ever met. Nothing against them and their hugely dominating segment of our state's economy. But when it comes to spreading that wealth out into the non-farm sector of South Dakota's economy, I just don't see results measuring up to the chest-thumping tone of the GOED proclamation. I took a look at taxable sales data provided by the South Dakota Department of Revenue, which only go as far back as 2008 for year-to-year comparisons, and find that taxable sales have grown at just a bit over 3% a year after smoothing out the year-to-year bumps. This is pretty much consistent with national growth rates during the period, so I don't see any big deal in the numbers.
More pertinent to the here and now is the current sales-tax revenue situation, which is awful. Our sales tax revenues for the first half of this fiscal year are running at a 1.1% annual rate,
|Why Is This Man Laughing?|
Maybe Cuz His Revenue Projections Were A Joke?
(photo from the constantcommoner.blogspot.com)
And then there's job growth. My thanks to Cory at Dakota Free Press for coming up with this spread sheet, that uses near term and intermediate term (2011-2015, which matches Daugaard's tenure as Governor) Bureau of Labor Statistics data that rank South Dakota 31st nationally in job growth. Given such mediocre performance, I have to wonder about all the hoopla coming out of the Governor's economic "report card." I suppose if I were grading myself I'd get a little carried away with my own self-perceived excellence too, but reality bites and reality's teeth marks are all over this GOED summary.
As propaganda documents go, this one fits the bill. But as an upfront assessment of the state of our economy, its prospects and performance? Forget about it.