Republican Gov. Kristi Noem's South Dakota is the only state in the country that saw a decrease in unemployment in a tumultuous 2020. Between December 2019 and December 2020, South Dakota's unemployment rate ticked down from 3.4% to 3.0%.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that ties South Dakota and Nebraska for the lowest unemployment rates in the United States.
Noem says that her state refusing economic lockdowns amid the pandemic made all the difference.
"South Dakota experienced a truly incredible year," Noem said, touting the numbers back in December. "Despite the pandemic forcing businesses to adjust, we have perhaps the strongest economy in the country. ... We ended the 2020 fiscal year with a budget surplus."
Noem acknowledged that South Dakota "took a hit when COVID came, just like every state," but noted that avoiding devastating restrictions on business allowed her state to bounce back "stronger than ever."
"[South Dakota] businesses cut the fewest hours and the fewest wages of any state in America. They had the lowest decrease in demand for their products and services," Noem said.
The governor encouraged distressed workers from neighboring Minnesota to consider moving to her state, noting that Minnesota's staggering $1.3 billion budget deficit might lead to "huge tax increases," something Noem says will not be happening in South Dakota.