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South Dakota Adults Grow in Population, Youth Stagnates

Since 1990, South Dakota's adult population has grown in its total share of the overall population, while the state's youth population has decreased proportionally.

Federal data shows that 18-64 year-olds comprised 59.7 percent of South Dakota's population in 2015, up from 56.8 percent in 1990 but down from a recent high of 60.9 percent in 2011.

That recent loss appears due to gains made by those 65 and older. That cohort has grown from 14.7 percent of the state's population in 1990 to 15.7 percent in 2015.

At the same time, the two children's cohorts measured by the U.S. Census for the Age category have shrunk and begun to stabilize. Children ages 0 to 4 years old have gone from 7.8 percent in 1990 to 7.1 percent in 2015. Those ages 5 to 17 years old have dropped from 20.7 percent in 1990 to 17.5 percent in 2015.

When looking at sheer numbers, the 18- to 64-year-olds trounce the other groups, having swelled 117,514 between 1990 and 2015, compared to increases of only 32,089 for those 65 and older, 6,740 for the 0- to 4-year-olds and 6,122 for the 5 - to 17-year-olds.

The oldest South Dakotans, those 85 and older, have been growing as a subset of the 65 and older cohort. The number of these most senior citizens increased from 13,343 in 1990 (1.9 percent of the statewide population) to 21,368 (2.5 percent) in 2015.

The statewide retirement-to-working-age ratio (the number of retirees divided by the number of working-age adults) indicates that retirees account for a growing percentage of the population. That ratio has risen from 23.6 percent in 2010 to 26.2 percent in 2015. This shift, however, reflects a return to levels seen in 1990 when 25.9 percent of the population was of retirement age.

South Dakota's population becomes less diverse with age as 28.6 percent of the state's 0- to 4-year-olds being of color compared to 3.5 percent for those 85 and older and 5.8 percent for those 65 and older.


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