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South Dakota's population began robust growth in 1990.
South Dakota's population began robust growth in 1990.
South Dakota Dashboard chart
Apr 25, 2016

SD Population Growth Slows

After ticking up a slight 8.2 percent between 1940 and 1990, South Dakota's population started climbing in 1990 and grew 23 percent by 2015. Between 2014 and 2015, however, population growth in the Rushmore state was 0.6 percent, the smallest percentage in the past five years. 

Growth slowed to below 1 percent (0.95 percent) from 2013-2014 after annual growth was about 1.25 percent for each of the previous three years, according to federal data

Here's a look at the state's population growth over the years: 

 1940  --  -- 642,961 
 1990   8.2 %   53,043 696,004
 2000 8.5 % 58,840 754,844
2010  7.9 %  59,336 814,180
2011  1.24 %  10,109  824,289
2012  1.25 %  10,342 834,631
2013 1.28 %  10,639 845,270
2014  0.95 %  8,034  853,304
2015 0.6 %  5,165 858,469

Just four states have smaller populations than South Dakota, which is one of five states with a population of less than 1 million. The other under-a-million states are Delaware (945,934), North Dakota (756,927), Alaska (738,432), Vermont (626,042) and Wyoming (586,107).

Metro Areas Dominate Growth

As South Dakota's population as a whole has grown, about 10,000 people emptied out of the countrysides between 2000 and 2015, while the metropolitan areas logged 31.5 percent population growth (98,402 people) from 312,495 to 410,897. South Dakota's metropolitan areas are those of Sioux Falls, Rapid City and one county within the Sioux City area.

The state's rural "non-metropolitan" areas had a population of 227,718 in 2000 and 217,909 in 2015, a drop of 4.3 percent. The rural parts of South Dakota experienced population loss every year up until the Great Recession hit. After 2009, South Dakota's rural population experienced minute annual growth except for 2010-2011, when it declined. From 2014-2015, rural South Dakota's population grew by 0.1 percent (222 people). 

South Dakota's micropolitan areas grew by 7 percent. Combined, the communities of Aberdeen, Brookings, Huron, Mitchell, Pierre, Spearfish, Watertown, Yankton and Vermillion and their surroundings added 15,032 people

Those population changes shifted South Dakota's population to be more urban. Here's a look at how the state's population shifted in the past 15 years. 

 2000 312,495
41 % 214,631 28 % 227,718 30 %
 2015 410,897 48 % 229,663
27 %


25 %




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