The bull fever contagion in the stock market and the likely extension of decent economic numbers that were boosted by the recent tax cut make things look pretty good for the country. Looking at the data, it's clear the momentum began years ago — for most Americans.
Unfortunately, South Dakotans have been left out. We have yet to get a piece of this action. For one thing, the wellsprings of our state's economy, grain and livestock production, haven't gotten a price boost from a national marketplace that is showering corporate America with good will and ever-increasing value.
Grain and livestock prices since Trump's election are about even, while stock market averages are up anywhere from 15 to 20 percent. State sales tax receipts have fallen below expectations, forcing lower take-home pay for South Dakota's employees, who are double-whammied by that news and higher prices created by inflation.
As to the rest of our state's residents, things aren't much better. During the third quarter of last year, South Dakota's personal income growth was dead last (after being 44th worst the preceding quarter) in the country at a tenth of 1 percent compared to a national figure seven times higher. Our immediate neighbors outpaced us by anywhere from three to seven times more growth.
I'd like an explanation from our congressional representatives. Rep. Kristi Noem and Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds all shared a common theme during their respective campaigns, one heard perpetually in this state from congressional aspirants.
In a nutshell, they promised to make sure that South Dakota's priorities would be forcefully represented by their presence in Congress. That they all support Trump's presidency and belong to the majority Republican party in Congress should have given them even more visibility, stature and power when it comes to representing our state.
Yet here we are, a year after Trump's inauguration, going nowhere fast. While the rest of America celebrates and Wall Street is on a rave, South Dakota's economic performance and outlook make us look like wallflowers at best, utterly uninvited at worst.
Actually, this trend started long before Trump. Going back to, say, the beginning of this decade, our people in D.C. have been duds when it comes to any improvement in South Dakota's economic fortunes. Our GDP per capita has actually declined from 2011 to 2016 (latest number available, though our last-place to nearly-last-place personal income performance last year suggest little improvement is on tap for 2017). The rest of the nation, including our immediate neighbors, have fared much better.
If these congressional reps are supposedly pounding their respective tables in Congress and demanding some voice for South Dakota, how come we're getting so far behind the rest of the country? Even more dismayingly, how come we can't keep up with surrounding states?
I have no doubt that our reps and their PR specialists can pull out lists of all the wonderful things they've done for the state. Unfortunately the net results, economically, don't yield much to be proud of. South Dakota went 62 percent for Trump. When do we get something to show for that kind of support?