In what may be the Upper Midwest’s first sign of the beginning of the end of its economic recession, the South Dakota Department of Labor announced on Wednesday that the Mount Rushmore State’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate had fallen to 4.8 percent for the month of April.

While that drop from March 2009 of 0.1 points is ever-so-modest, it marks the first time unemployment has fallen in South Dakota since November 2007 – a string of 18 consecutive months.

At that time, unemployment had dropped from 2.8 percent in October 2007 to 2.7 percent in November. The state’s unemployment rate then alternately leveled off and trickled upward over the course of the next year, landing at 3.2 percent in October 2008.

Then, during the next half-year leading up to March 2009, the jobless rate increased at historic levels in South Dakota – setting state records for:

· The largest month-to-month percentage point increase (0.7 points, December 2008 – January 2009)
· The largest 12-month percentage point increase (2.1 points, March 2008 – March 2009)
· The largest month-to-month rate of increase (18.9 percent, December 2008 to January 2009)
· The largest 12-month rate of increase (75.0 percent, March 2008 – March 2009)

South Dakota’s unemployment rate is now 4.1 percentage points lower than that of the nation (8.9 percent). This marks the 27th largest monthly differential between the country’s unemployment rate and that of South Dakota, dating back 400 months to January 1976. During this 33+ year stretch, South Dakota has never had a higher unemployment rate than the nation overall, with the smallest differential being 0.9 points (November 2000) and the largest differential being 5.0 points (November and December 1982).

While the jobless rate is still up 1.9 points and 65.5 percent from one year ago in South Dakota, the halting and reversing of jobless claims brings a glimmer of hope for all Upper Midwestern residents.

South Dakota Unemployment Rate, October 2007 – April 2009

Month
Rate
Net Month
% Month
Net 12 Month
% 12 Month
10-07
2.8
0.0
0.0
-0.3
-9.7
11-07
2.7
-0.1
-3.6
-0.4
-12.9
12-07
2.7
0.0
0.0
-0.3
-10.0
01-08
2.7
0.0
0.0
-0.3
-10.0
02-08
2.7
0.0
0.0
-0.3
-10.0
03-08
2.8
0.1
3.7
-0.1
-3.4
04-08
2.9
0.1
3.6
-0.1
-3.3
05-08
2.9
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
06-08
2.9
0.0
0.0
0.1
3.6
07-08
3.0
0.1
3.4
0.2
7.1
08-08
3.1
0.1
3.3
0.3
10.7
09-08
3.2
0.1
3.2
0.4
14.3
10-08
3.2
0.0
0.0
0.4
14.3
11-08
3.4
0.2
6.2
0.7
25.9
12-08
3.7
0.3
8.8
1.0
37.0
01-09
4.4
0.7
18.9
1.7
63.0
02-09
4.6
0.2
4.5
1.9
70.4
03-09
4.9
0.3
6.5
2.1
75.0
04-09
4.8
-0.1
-2.0
1.9
65.5

Note: Data from South Dakota Department of Labor compiled by Smart Politics.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.