South Dakota, the next Hawaii?

South Dakota may be the next Hawaii.

South Dakota has posted the lowest jobless rate among all states since January, according to numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Could it be the start of a run to rival Hawaii's?

Looking back almost four years, the Aloha State posted the lowest state jobless rate in all of 2005 and 2006 as well as about half of 2007. Increased tourism, homebuilding and federal spending on military bases were cited as some reasons behind the growth (SI Report, Jan. 26, 2007, p.2).

Since then, Hawaii's rate has risen. It posted a jobless rate of 4.2% in August - giving it the eighth lowest unemployment rate among the 50 states and Washington DC.

South Dakota's rate is currently 3.3%.

While most states are losing employment, South Dakota added 7,300 jobs since the start of the year. The state added more than 5,000 jobs in July and August alone.

The job gains appear to be widespread. Local government added 2,500 jobs, healthcare added 1,900, manufacturing added 1,300 and financial services added 800.

No single sector employs more than 20% of all nonfarm workers in the state, the South Dakota Bureau of Finance & Management reported on its Web site. Major industries include wholesale and retail trade as well as agriculture.

So why is South Dakota doing so well? Maybe it's the business environment.

South Dakota ranked as the best state for small business on the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council's Small Business Survival Index for 2007.

Or is it something else? We welcome comments from South Dakotans and others in the know.

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