Monday, 24 August 2015 00:00

TRIVIA TUESDAY: South Dakota Demographics

The South Dakota Dashboard proudly announces the launch of Trivia Tuesday. Impress your friends and coworkers after learning smart-sounding data from our sleek infographics. Further your education by scrolling to the end of the page and clicking the text links to dive deeper into the data at hand. This week’s installment focuses on demographic trends in anticipation of the 2015 South Dakota Demography Conference. Make sure to check out our event page to learn more about registering for this annual event.


Demographics Infographic Text

  1. The population of South Dakota has been growing faster than the national average since 2010. South Dakota had 4.8 percent growth while the national average was only 3.3 percent. Source
  2. South Dakota is becoming more racially diverse. Younger generations have a higher percent of people of different races. Of those ages 0-24, 25 percent are of color while only 8 percent of those ages 60 plus are of color. Source
  3. But South Dakota is still less racially diverse than rest of the nation. Nationally, 37.9 percent of the population is of color, while only 17 percent of South Dakota is of color. Source
  4. Winner is the "Oldest" city in SD because it has the highest percent of citizens over 65 at 24.6 percent. Source
  5. Tea South Dakota is the “youngest” city because 37.5 percent of Tea’s residents are under 18 and this is the highest percent in South Dakota. Source
  6. The Black Hills are more racially diverse than the rest of South Dakota. In the whole state, only 16.7 percent of the population is of color, but in the Black Hills, 21.4 percent are of color. The Black Hills are still lower than the national average of 37.9 percent. Source
  7. The proportion of citizens 85+ is growing. Citizens 85 and older is projected to make up 3.5 percent of South Dakota’s population by 2030. Source
  8. The average age in South Dakota is 36.8, which is 36th oldest in the nation. Source
  9. You're probably not from Jones County because it's the least populous county in South Dakota with only 1,006 people. Source
  10. Having grown by 1.6 percent from 2012-2013, the population of the Black Hills is growing faster than the state as a whole which grew by 1.3 percent. Source
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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.

Recently updated federal data shows that 18-64 year-olds comprised 60.1 percent of South Dakota's population in 2014, 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 15.3 percent in 2014.

At the same time, the two children's cohorts measured by the U.S. Census for the Age category have shrunk. Children ages 0 to 4 years old have gone from 7.8 percent in 1990 to 7.1 percent in 2014. Those ages 5 to 17 years old have dropped from 20.7 percent in 1990 to 17.6 percent in 2014.

When looking at sheer numbers, the 18- to 64-year-olds trounce the other groups, having swelled 117,334 between 1990 and 2014, compared to increases of only 27,892 for those 65 and older, 6,106 for the 0- to 4-year-olds and 5,839 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 20,871 (2.4 percent) in 2014.

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 25.4 percent in 2014. This shift, however, reflects a return to levels seen twenty-five years ago when 25.9 percent of the population was of retirement age.

South Dakota's population gets whiter as it gets older, with 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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Most of South Dakota's nine American Indian reservations have grown only modestly in population or experienced population declines from 2013 to 2014, according to recently updated federal data.

All of Oglala Lakota County is part of the Pine Ridge Reservation, and that county has grown by fewer than 100 residents each year since 2010 and grew by 0.4 percent between 2013 and 2014. That county's population stood at 14,218 in 2014, up from 13,586 in 2000, according to the U.S. Census.

The Pine Ridge Reservation is home to the largest population of any of South Dakota's reservations, at 18,834 in 2010, the most recent year federal data is available for entire reservations. The Pine Ridge Reservation grew 21.3 percent between 2000 and 2010. Other counties that contain part of the Pine Ridge Reservation are Jackson County (up 1.3 percent from 2013 to 2014) and Bennett County (down 0.6 percent from 2013 to 2014).

While Oglala Lakota County's story has been one of slow but steady growth, other reservation counties have declined. Reservation counties that lost population between 2013 and 2014, according to the U.S. Census, include:

  • Corson County (Standing Rock Reservation) – Down 1.1 percent to 4,182.

  • Todd County (Rosebud Reservation)– Down 1.0 percent to 9,882.

  • Moody County (Flandreau-Santee Reservation) – Down 0.8 percent to 6,367.

  • Ziebach County (Cheyenne River Reservation) – Down 0.3 percent to 2,826.


At the same time, one reservation county – Buffalo County – is South Dakota's fourth-fastest growing county. The population increased 2.2 percent from 2013 to 2014 to 2,077. Buffalo County is home to much of the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation.

Other reservation counties that grew from 2013 to 2014 are listed below:

  • Dewey County (Cheyenne River Reservation) – Up 1 percent to 5,662.

  • Charles Mix County (Yankton Sioux Reservation) – Up 0.8 percent to 9,287.

  • Roberts County (Lake Traverse Reservation) – Up 0.7 percent to 10,374.


American Indians comprised 8.9 percent of South Dakota's population in 2014, and many live outside of reservations. Therefore, reservation populations do not necessarily reflect the status of the state's entire American Indian population. 


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South Dakota's population below age 20 has shrunk as a percentage of the total population in recent decades, but that trend appears to have stabilized, according to recently updated federal data.

At the same time, the nation's youth population continues a slow decline as a proportion of the overall population.

In South Dakota in 2014, those 19 and younger comprised 24.7 percent of the total population—the same as in 2013, compared to 28.5 percent in 1990 and 26.8 percent in 2000. The state's youth population slid from 24.9 percent in 2010 to 24.6 percent in 2012 before making a slight rebound.

Nationwide, those 19 and younger made up 23.1 percent of the total population in 2014, down from 23.3 percent in 2013 and from 25.7 percent in 2000.

The number of South Dakotans younger than 20 was nearly 12,000 more in 2014 than in 1990 — 210,407 compared to 198,462. At the same time, the number of adult South Dakotans grew by more than 145,000, from 497,542 to 642,768.

As a proportion of the state's population, South Dakota children ages 10-14 have dropped the most, going from 8 percent in 1990 to 6.5 percent in 2014. That cohort is followed closely by children ages 5 to 9, who slid from 8.4 percent to 7 percent of the total population. South Dakotans ages 0 to 4 went from 7.8 percent in 1990 to 7.1 percent in 2014, while those ages 15 to 19 went from 7.3 percent to 6.8 percent.

In 2000, the 15 to 19 age group had the largest share of the overall population, at 8.3 percent. By 2010, the 0 to 4 cohort had surpassed the teens, at 7.3 percent compared to 7.1 percent for the 15- to 19-year-olds. In 2012, the 5- to 9-year-olds rose to 7 percent to surpass the 15 to 19 group, which was at 6.9 percent that year.

By 2014, the 0 to 4 group—the smallest group in 2000—had become the largest group, at 7.1 percent. They were followed closely by the 5- to 9-year-olds at 6.9 percent, then by the 15 to 19 group, at 6.8 percent. The 10 to 14 age group, which was the second-largest group from 1990 through 2005, was the smallest in 2014 at 6.5 percent.

When looking at ages by single years, the ages 9, 10, 11 and 12 each had fewer people in 2014 than in 1990, and each age between 10 and 18 has fewer people than in 2000.


NOTE: The figures for South Dakota's adult population have been updated from the original online publication of this article. The initial numbers reflected the state's entire population, not only its adult population. 


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In South Dakota, non-Hispanic whites remain the dominant majority race at 83 percent of the population in 2014, according to recently updated federal data.

At the same time, from 2010-2014, the state's population of color grew at twice the national rate and grew six times faster than did the white population.

South Dakota's population of color grew by 16.6 percent during those four years while the United States population of color grew 8.6 percent. The state's white population grew 2.7 percent while the nation's white population grew 0.3 percent.

South Dakota's population of color, as a percentage of the total population, has doubled since 1990, going from 8.5 percent to 17 percent in 2014. The number of South Dakotans of color has also more than doubled, increasing from 58,823 in 1990 to 144,723 in 2014. South Dakota's total population in 2014 was 853,175.

American Indians remain the state's largest racial minority group, at 8.9 percent of the total population, but the state's total American Indian population has remained constant since 2012 at just above 75,000 and, since 2010, at 8.9 or 9 percent of the state’s total population.

Minority population growth, albeit modest, has occurred primarily in the Hispanic, Black and Asian populations. From 2010 to 2014, Hispanics increased their share from 2.7 percent to 3.6 percent of the total population, while Blacks grew from 1.3 percent to 1.9 percent and Asians rose from 1 percent to 1.3 percent of South Dakota’s total poplation.

At the same time, the white share of the state’s population has decreased from 84.8 percent to 83 percent.

While South Dakota has been gaining in racial diversity at a faster rate than the nation as a whole, the state remains well behind the nation for the proportion of the population that is of color. Nationally, that figure was 38 percent in 2014 compared to 17 percent in South Dakota.

South Dakota ranks 41st among the 50 states for its population of color, compared to last-place Maine at 6.2 percent and first-place Hawaii at 77 percent. In addition to Hawaii, three other states have populations of color above 50 percent — California at 61.5 percent, New Mexico at 61.2 percent and Texas at 56.5 percent.

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South Dakota's population is gaining in racial diversity across all age groups, with the most racial diversity existing in the youngest age cohorts, newly updated federal data from the U.S. Census shows.

For South Dakotans ages 0-4, 28.6 percent were of color in 2014, according to South Dakota Dashboard analyses of U.S. Census data. That is up from 27.2 percent in 2010 and 21.6 percent in 2000.

By comparison, 3.5 percent of South Dakotans 85 and older were of color in 2014 – up from 2.4 percent in 2010 and 2.2 percent in 2000. For each five-year cohort that is older, the proportion of the population that is of color decreases.

For example, 18 percent of South Dakotans ages 35-39 were of color in 2014, compared to 16.3 percent for those ages 40-44 and 14.6 percent for those ages 45-49.

At the same time, each age group has become more racially diverse with each successive year. Those South Dakotans of color ages 35-19 grew from 11 percent in 2000 to 16.2 percent in 2010 to 18 percent in 2014. Those ages 40-44 grew from 9.1 percent in 2000 to 14.5 percent in 2010 to 16.3 percent in 2014.

At the same time, South Dakota's population of color shrinks as it ages. In 2014, 17,337 South Dakotans of color were ages 0-4; 13,769 were ages 15-19; 10,388 were ages 30-34; 7,070 were ages 44-49; 4,041 were ages 60-64 and 727 were 85 or older.

South Dakota's white non-Hispanic population does not follow the same trend. In 2014, white South Dakotans between age 50 and 64 outnumber any other age group, with those ages 54-59 being the most populous five-year cohort at 53,472. For whites under 65, the 40-44 age group was the smallest, at 39,117.


Aging Population

As South Dakota grows more racially diverse, it also grows older, although at a slower pace. The state's population 65 or older grew from 14.3 percent of the population in both 2000 and 2010 to 15.3 percent in 2014. This compares to 14.7 percent in 1990.

The population age 85 and older has held steady at 2.4 percent of the overall population since 2010, up from 2.1 percent in 2000 and 1.9 percent in 1990.

The state's ratio of retirement-age adults to working-age adults is also going up, from 23.6 percent of the population in 2010 to 25.4 percent in 2014. This compares to higher rates in 1990 (25.9 percent) and 2000 (24.4 percent). 

South Dakota's median age is 36.8, where it has remained since 2011. In 2010, it was 36.9.

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South Dakota's fastest growing town had a population of fewer than 1,000 at the start of the century and had grown to 5,190 by 2014, according to recently updated federal data. Harrisburg, a bedroom community to Sioux Falls, grew 6.8 percent between 2013 and 2014 and leads the state as its fastest growing of the 27 largest municipalities. 

Of the five fastest-growing South Dakota towns, three are adjacent to the state's largest city of Sioux Falls and all are in eastern South Dakota. 

  • North Sioux City grew by 5 percent to 2,636
  • Brandon, east of Sioux Falls, grew by 2.7 percent to 9,779
  • Tea, south of Sioux Falls, grew by 2.4 percent to 4,531
  • Madison grew by 2.4 percent to 7,126

Sioux Falls itself was the state's sixth fastest growing city, at 2.3 percent, to a population of 168,586. Rapid City, the state's second-largest city and largest in western South Dakota, came in at seventh-fastest growing, climbing 2.1 percent to 72,638. 

Rapid City's neighbor to the east, Box Elder, grew 1.8 percent to 9,233, making it the state's eighth-fastest growing city. It was followed by No. 9 Hartford, (west of Sioux Falls), which also grew 1.8 percent to 2,983 and No. 10 Aberdeen, the state's third-largest city, which grew 1 percent to 27,800.

Mitchell (15,693), Canton (3,317; north of Sioux Falls) and Brookings (23,225) were next in line, each growng 0.9 percent, followed by Pierre (14,054), which grew 0.8 percent. 

Sturgis (6,741), Watertown (22,057), Mobridge (3,515) and Hot Springs (3,503) each grew by less than 0.5 percent. Winner (2,862), Vermillion (10,699), Spearfish (11,091) and Yankton (14,552) each held steady with no growth or decline. 

Five cities experienced population decline from 2013 to 2014. 

  • Belle Fourche, down 0.2 percent to 5,707
  • Dell Rapids, down 0.8 percent to 3,700
  • Huron, down 0.8 percent to 13,163
  • Milbank, down 1.3 percent to 3,269
  • Lead, down 2.4 percent to 3,030

On the South Dakota Dashboard's Population page, find more details including population numbers for the 27 municipalities going back to 2000 and find a list of each incorporated city and town, from Sioux Falls to White Rock, population 3.


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South Dakota ranked exactly in the middle of the 50 states for high school graduation rates in 2013. Ranked 25th in the nation, 83 percent of South Dakotan high school students graduate on time. Our partners at Minnesota Compass have created a tool that allows you to compare state graduation rates by race or income. (To change between racial and income datasets, hover over the breakdown tab in the center of the graph.)


These statistics are compiled from the  U.S. Department of Education, the National Center for Education Statistics,  and the Common Core of Data (CCD).

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More Native Americans are prosecuted in federal criminal court in South Dakota than in any other federal court district in the nation, according to a report issued recently by the U.S. Sentencing Commission of the U.S. Justice Department. (The two-page report is attached below.)

In 2014, 293 Native Americans were federally prosecuted in South Dakota, compared to 272 in Arizona, 105 in New Mexico, 99 in Montana and 60 in North Dakota.

In addition to leading the nation for prosecuting Native Americans, the South Dakota court district also leads for the overal proportion of federal offenders who are Native American. In South Dakota, more than 56 percent of federal offenders are Native, compared to 33 percent in Montana, 26 percent in eastern Oklahoma, 18 percent in North Dakota and more than 12 percent in northern Oklahoma.

Nationwide, most Native offenders are male (78.6 percent); almost half have "little or no" criminal history (45.7 percent) and most were sentenced to prison terms (88.1 percent). 


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South Dakota is part of the national trend of "bottom up" demographic change according to the latest book published by the Brookings Institution Press.

As stated in William Frey's newest book Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics are Remaking America, today's young people are more racially diverse than previous generations. This study investigates racial change using Census data to map and compare different age groups at the county and metropolitan level. 

This interactive map shows race by age in the follow categories: White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Two or More Races, and Other (which includes American Indian people). To further emphasize the growing level of diversity, an aditional Non-White category can be selected. Though many counties in the South Dakota have a predominantly White population for ages 80 and up, this majority shrinks and even becomes the minority as the age of the group being displayed decreases. 

To view these patterns and learn more about South Dakota counties and their racial diversity, explore the interactive map on the Brookings Institute website.

Discover more about South Dakota's racial diversity and youth on our Dashboard Children and Youth Data Page.

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