Is Sioux Falls' 3.5% unemployment rate America's future?

Kai Ryssdal reports from downtown Sioux Falls, S.D., for the upcoming "American Futures" project.

Residents of Sioux Falls, S.D., say there are two seasons in the region: Winter and "construction season." And with the economy as strong as it is, new buildings, homes and other construction projects are going up all over town.

The halting pace of the economic recovery is all too apparent, despite glimmers of hope in housing and other sectors. But in some places, the recovery has ended and the economy is in expansion mode.

One of those places is Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a city which Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal said has more to do with the American and global economy than you might think.

"I was at a food processing plant two days ago where they are making pre-packaged meals that will in probably a week and a half be on lunch trays for kids in the Los Angeles Unified School District."

And the economy of Sioux Falls looks pretty darn good. Unemployment is at 3.5 percent, compared to the national rate of 7.4 percent. And this week, Capital One just announced they are bringing 175 new jobs to town.

But here’s the catch: 3.5 percent unemployment is actually, if you ask economists, too low. There isn’t enough turnover between jobs and companies can’t find the employees they need. In fact, local business leaders in Sioux Falls say that when they work to woo new companies to come open stores in Sioux Falls, the companies first question is about that unemployment rate: With so few unemployed workers, how will firms find the employees they need?

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About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

Residents of Sioux Falls, S.D., say there are two seasons in the region: Winter and "construction season." And with the economy as strong as it is, new buildings, homes and other construction projects are going up all over town.

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