Council members offer perspectives about effects of COVID-19 on South Dakota’s economy

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The state Council of Economic Advisors met by teleconference Thursday to share stories and data about what’s happening in South Dakota during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Farmers have been busy planting — but they’re not buying new equipment — and implement dealers are relying on parts and service — while ethanol producers are struggling in a depressed market.

Customers aren’t rushing back to sit down for meals at restaurants — and some of the council members still aren’t comfortable going out — while pessimism ran deep about how many eating places could stay open under their current owners.

Tourists canceled lodging reservations the past two months — and some hotels and attractions in the Black Hills aren’t opening this summer — but visitors are starting to make plans for July — reservations for the Sturgis motorcycle rally are holding — and Deadwood is booked solid for this Memorial Day weekend.

Meanwhile camping is off the charts.

Sales of passenger vehicles are lagging somewhat — except for $70,000 pickups.

Construction is going full-speed, as are sales of construction equipment — and small town grocery stores have seen revenue go up — but many people put their federal stimulus checks in their savings accounts or used the money to pay down existing debt.

Several council members praised Governor Kristi Noem for her approach, as she repeatedly tells people to follow the CDC guidelines and use good judgment, while letting public schools, universities, governments and businesses decide whether to close.

Folks planning to visit South Dakota from other states have noticed, according to Susan Johnson of Lead, a former South Dakota secretary of tourism. The governor is “a rock star out there,” she said.

Dan Noteboom, an implement dealer from Corsica, commended Noem. “Kristi just did an awesome job of keeping the state open,” he said.

The council received updated forecasts from Ralph Brown, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of South Dakota, and state economist Mark Quasney.

Brown noted that the federal government deficit has reached 16.5 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. He said there were worries when the federal deficit was at 5 percent of GDP.

“We have no experience with the events unfolding,” Brown said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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