(NPN) -- Political leaders from the Dakotas like to brag about having the lowest unemployment rates in the nation - 2.6 percent for North Dakota and 3.6 percent for South Dakota according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What they’re not saying, however, is that the rates for long-term unemployment in North and South Dakota are five to nine times the “official” unemployment rates.

According a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, 17.2 percent of South Dakota’s unemployed have not had employment for more than 27 weeks. In North Dakota, the state with the nation’s lowest unemployment rate - it is 19.6 percent. In other words, about 1 in 6 unemployed South Dakotans have not found work for nearly seven months.

And while the Dakotas lead the rest of the nation in lowest long-term unemployment rates, it is not a statistic that politicians like to mention.

EPI notes that the share of long term unemployed nationally is nearly twice the rate in the mid 2000s—18 percent in February 2007 to approximately 38 percent of the unemployed in December 2013.

The long term unemployment rates for other Northern Plains states according to EPI: Iowa, 21 percent; Minnesota, 26.8 percent; Montana, 24.6 percent; Nebraska, 27.8 percent and Wyoming, 21.4 percent.

New Jersey and the District of Columbia had the highest long-term unemployment rates at 46.6 percent of unemployed workers.