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Proportion of Adults Working

Working Population in South Dakota Holds Steady in 2016

South Dakota posted higher percentages of adults working in 2016 than the national average, according to recent federal data. The 76.2 percent of adults working in 2016 declined slightly from a recent high of 78.7 percent in 2008—which was the highest proportion of adults working in the state in over a decade. South Dakota’s decline in working adults puts the state at odds with national trends, as the United States saw a slight increase from 68.7 percent in 2015 to 69.4 percent in 2016.

The Rushmore State performed well nationally, placing No. 6 in the nation for the percentage of working adults. However, South Dakota lagged behind most other states in the region, including No.1 North Dakota (79.3), No. 2 Minnesota (78.3), No. 3 Nebraska (77.7), and No.4 Iowa (76.6). South Dakota outperformed Wyoming and Montana in number of adults working in 2016.

The Sioux Falls Metro Area (Lincoln, McCook, Minnehaha and Turner counties) exceeded the statewide figure, rising by nearly three points to 82.8 percent; up from 79.9 percent in 2015. The Rapid City Metro Area (Pennington, Meade and Custer counties), declined for the second consecutive year. In 2016, 74.6 percent of adults were working, down from 77.2 percent in 2015.

More South Dakota seniors were working in 2016 at 33.1 percent, up slightly from 31.9 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, the number of teenagers at work continued to decline. In 2016, 44.5 percent of teenagers (ages 16-19) were employed, compared to a recent high of 49.6 percent in 2014.

The rates for men and women working declined to 78.8 percent for men while 73.4 percent of women were at work in 2016. These rates reflect narrowing of the gender gap of 0.5 percent from 2015 to 2016.  

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