Workers in South Dakota had the nation's lowest rate of "active disengagement" at 12 percent in 2013-2014, according to a survey conducted by Gallup

The national average for 2013-2014 was 18 percent active disengagement, while -- at 21 percent -- Connecticut, New York, Michigan and Kentucky tied for the highest percentage of actively disengaged workers.

The Rushmore state ranked in the second quintile for employee engagement, although an exact percentage wasn't available in a summary report on the Gallup website. (The full report can be downloaded when requested on the website.) Neighboring Montana ranked highest for worker engagement, at 39 percent. The national average was 31 percent.

Gallup defines worker disengagement as: "Employees are not just unhappy at work; these employees undermine the accomplishments of their engaged coworkers. They monopolize managers' time, account for more quality defects and quit at a higher rate than engaged employees." 

Employee engagement is defined as: "Employees are involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace. Day after day, they are passionate about their jobs and feel a profound connection to their company. They are more productive, drive innovation and promote organizational growth."

Companies with engaged workers are more profitable, have higher employee retention rates, lower accident rates and more benefits.

Active worker disengagement tends to be linked to states with higher rates of unemployment/underemployment and higher rates of lay-offs. Higher rates of worker engagement tend to be linked to smaller companies, where employees take more ownership of the workplace, and low rates of unemployment, suggesting a competitive labor market. 

The survey also found that individual managers have a direct bearing on levels of worker engagement, with some managers achieving total worker engagement and others creating high rates of disengagement. 

Read more about South Dakota's economy on the South Dakota Dashboard


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Thursday, 29 October 2015 18:00

SD Economy Picks Up After Sluggish FY2015

The state of South Dakota has collected 5 percent more in sales tax since July 1 in 2015 than the previous year, reports the Rapid City Journal

That makes for a marked increase over the 2.2 percent boost in sales tax for the entire fiscal year of 2015, which ended June 30. A member of the governor's staff gave updated information to the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers as work is underway on the state's budget for Fiscal Year 2017, which begins July 1, 2016, and which the state Legislature will approve by March 2016.

The council also was told that South Dakota's gross domestic product fell 0.9 percent in 2012, then grew by 0.9 percent in 2013 and 0.6 percent in 2014.

The FY2017 budget will include a 0.3 percent inflationary increase in funding for K-12 schools and a 2.1 percent increase to healthcare providers. Also, the budget presented to state lawmakers by Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Dec. 8 will include $5.3 million to help offset tuition consts for South Dakota residents at public universities and technical institutes. 


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Monday, 28 September 2015 00:00

SD Outpacing US for Job Growth

South Dakota has added jobs faster than the nation as a whole since 2000, with South Dakota's job growth at 12.9 percent over 14 years, according to recently updated federal data. 

Over the same time period, national job growth was 5.2 percent, an addition of 6.7 million jobs to a total of 136.6 million in 2014. During the Great Recession, the total number of jobs nationwide dipped below the 129.9 million that were present in 2000. In 2010, jobs dropped to a low of 127.8 million before growth resumed in 2011.

South Dakota lost jobs during the Great Recession years but did not come close to falling below the 364,119 jobs the state had in 2000. The recession took the state's total jobs number from 397,108 in 2008 to about 389,000 in 2009 and 2010 before job growth resumed. By 2012, the state's total jobs topped 400,000. In 2014, it hit 410,931. 

Between June 2014 and June 2015, South Dakota ranked 15th nationally with 2.3 percent job growth. That compares to No. 1 Utah, with 4.5 percent job growth, and No. 50 West Virginia, which experienced 0.6 percent job loss. During that year, South Dakota led all of its neighbors for job growth, with No. 29 Iowa the next highest, at 1.5 percent growth. At the same time, Wyoming ranking 49th with a loss of 0.1 percent. Low oil prices have slowed down North Dakota, which ranked 47th with job growth of 0.4 percent.


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The economies in South Dakota's two major metropolitan areas enjoyed modest growth in 2014, but were below the national average, according to figures released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

Adjusted for inflation, the gross domestic product (GDP) for the Sioux Falls metropolitan area grew by 1.7 percent from $17.58 billion in 2013 to $18.30 billion. 
In the west, GDP grew 1.3 percent in the Rapid City metropolitan area as the economy expanded from $5.90 billion to $6.11 billion. Meanwhile, real GDP in the nation's 381 metropolitan areas grew by an average of 2.3 percent.
With its release of 2014 data, the BEA also revised its calculation of economic growth in prior years based on new information. Significantly, these revisions suggest that the economy in Sioux Falls grew more quickly between 2010 and 2012 than previously estimated, slowing in 2013. In Rapid City, however, the economy was much weaker than previously estimated and in 2013 actually contracted by 0.9 percent.
Dr. Ryan Sougstad of Augustana University and Dr. Eric John Abrahamson of the South Dakota Dashboard will present a detailed analysis of GDP trends, highlighting sectors that are growing and those that are declining at the upcoming South Dakota Demography Conference in Rapid City on Oct. 8. 
For registration information for the Demography Conference or the Focus on the Economy mini-conference held the morning of Oct. 8, visit the conference's EventBrite online registration site.
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Monday, 31 August 2015 00:00

TRIVIA TUESDAY: An Economic Education

The second installment of Trivia Tuesday is hot off the presses. 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 economic trends in anticipation of the 2015 South Dakota Demography Conference's mini-conference on the state of the South Dakota Economy. Make sure to check out our event page to learn more about registering for this annual event.


  1.  Did you know South Dakota puts out about $77,000 per working age adult? It ranks us as 20th highest nationally. Source
  2. The number of Education and Health Occupations grew by 700 this year. Source
  3. Pennington County, home to Mt. Rushmore, brings in the most from tourism taxes at more than $220 million, which is twice as much as the next county, Minnehaha. Source
  4. In 2014, South Dakota racked up $731,908,262 in tourism sales which is about $100 million more than in 2009. Source
  5. Last year South Dakota was ranked 41st amongst other states for jobs growth with only 1.2 percent growth. Source
  6. South Dakota ranks 5th in the nation for highest increase in GDP at a 2.8 percent increase. It is a lot less than our Northern neighbors, however, who rank at number 1 with a 9.7 percent increase. Source
  7. 22.7 percent of South Dakota’s gross sales came from Minnehaha County in 2014. The county with the second highest percent was Pennington County with only 7.6 percent. Source
  8. Finance and Insurance makes up the most of our GDP at around 15 percent. Agriculture is second at around 14 percent. Source
  9. It might be intuitive that logging and camping taxes make up most of South Dakota’s tourism tax, but would you guess that it makes up about 60 percent of the taxes? In fact, it brings in four times more money than the next most profitable business type, shops and markets. Check it out here. Source
  10. As of 2013, the total number of non-farm, payroll jobs in South Dakota was 417,100. Source
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South Dakota has lagged the nation for growth of its gross domestic product (GDP) over the past three years. The economy actually shrunk between 2011 and 2012 as GDP declined -0.9 percent, according to recently updated federal data

In 2012, 2013 and 2014 the Rushmore State did not keep up with national GDP growth, as the chart below shows. Still, the state logged a record $39.8 billion GDP in 2014.


The weakness in South Dakota's economy in recent years follows a period of expansion before and during the Great Recession when the rate of growth for the state's GDP exceeded that of the nation. For five straight years, between 2007 and 2011, South Dakota matched or bested national GDP growth. During the Great Recession between 2008 and 2009, when the US experienced a decline in GDP, South Dakota recorded 1 percent growth from 2008 to 2009. In 2011, as the economy recovered and corn prices rose, South Dakota recorded an eye-popping 5 percent increase in GDP growth. (The state's recent high for GDP growth came in 2002 at 10.8 percent.)

Among the 50 states, South Dakota's 0.6 percent GDP growth ranked 41st in 2014, compared to No. 1 North Dakota, at 6.3 percent, and No. 50 Alaska at -1.3 percent. (Alaska and Mississippi were the only states to experience negative GDP growth in 2014 while Virginia had 0 percent growth.)

When looking at per-capita GDP, the picture looks more grim. Since 2011, South Dakota's inflation-adjusted, per-capita GDP has declined each year from $48,064 in 2011 to $46,688 in 2014. South Dakota ranked 24th among the 50 states in 2014, compared to No. 1 Alaska at $66,160 and No. 50 Mississippi at $31,551.

Nationally, real per-capita GDP has increased from $47,641 in 2011 to $49,469 in 2014. For just one year—2011—South Dakota's per-capita GDP exceeded the national level, according to data that goes back to 1997. 

When looking at GDP per working-age adult, South Dakota fares better and exceeded the national rate for four straight years, 2009-2012. In 2013, the most recent year for which this subset of data is available, South Dakota's per working-age adult GDP was $74,757 compared to the national rate of $75,175. Before the recession, the gap was much wider, as much as $10,000 in 2001 and more in 2000. That gap diminished in the years leading up to 2008 and only tipped slightly away from South Dakota's favor in 2013. 


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In South Dakota's two main metro areas, women earned on average about $11,000 less than their male counterparts in 2013, although that is for all work and not only full-time employment.

That figure places the Sioux Falls and Rapid City metropolitan areas in the middle of the pack for the gender wage gap in the Upper Great Plains region, according to an online analysis of all the nation's metro areas.

The wage gap in Sioux Falls and Rapid City is lower than the national wage gap of almost $13,000, while the Sioux City metro area – part of which is in South Dakota – tops the national average at $14,208. (Sioux Falls' metro area is comprised of Minnehaha, Lincoln, Turner and McCook counties. Rapid City's metro area is comprised of Pennington, Meade and Custer counties. Union County in South Dakota is included in the Sioux City metro area.)

The highest paid men in the Sioux Falls metro area, at an average of $101,000, work in the category of “education, legal, community service, arts and media.” The highest paid women in the Sioux Falls area, at an average of $53,000, work in the category of “computer, engineering and math.”

The lowest paid men in Sioux Falls, at an average of $16,000, work in “food preparation and serving occupations,” while the lowest paid women, at an average of $9,000, work in “farming, fishing and forestry.”

The highest paid men in the Rapid City metro area, at an average of $91,000, work in the category of “health diagnosing and treating practitioners and other technical occupations.” The highest paid women in the Rapid City area, at $54,000, work in “farming, fishing and forestry.”

The lowest paid men in Rapid City, at $13,000, work in “food preparation and serving occupations,” while the lowest paid women, at $11,000, also work in that category.

The similarly situated metro areas in the region with smaller wage gaps are listed below.

  • Cheyenne, Wyo. - Wage gap of $10,481

  • Grand Forks, N.D. - Wage gap of $10,182

The similarly situated metro areas with larger wage gaps are listed below.

  • Casper, Wyo. - Wage gap of $16,486

  • Billings. Mont. - Wage gap of $16,335

  • Bismarck, N.D. - Wage gap of $15,704

  • Fargo, N.D. - Wage gap of $14,100

Nationally, the legal occupations – listed as “management, business, science, education, legal, community service, arts and media” -- had the largest wage gap at $48,118 while the food preparation and serving occupation had the smallest gap, at $1,566.


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Two years ago, the Sioux City metropolitan area enjoyed the highest increases in real personal income in the nation, according to a new analysis released by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. Sioux Falls was not far behind. Meanwhile the Rapid City metropolitan area suffered significant declines and was among the lowest in the nation.

For the state as a whole, South Dakota enjoyed one of the highest increases in real personal income in 2013, experiencing a rise of 2.0 percent. The increase ranked fifth highest in the nation. The growth in real incomes was helped by the fact that South Dakota enjoyed the third lowest overall cost of living, as measured by the BEA’s analysis of regional price parities by state. The state’s year-over-year increase in the cost of living was the lowest in the nation at 0.1 percent.

The BEA’s report adjusts personal income based on national and regional cost-of-living and inflation factors. The report concluded that total real personal income in Sioux City rose 4.8 percent in 2013. The boom in Sioux City reflected a dramatic rebound after real personal incomes declined between 2011 and 2012. In 2013, real personal incomes rose 2.8 percent in Sioux Falls and declined in Rapid City by 0.4 percent.

Changes on a per capita basis provide greater insights into the overall increase in prosperity. In Sioux City, the increase in real per capita personal income was also 4.8 percent, while in Sioux Falls it was only 0.3 percent. In the Rapid City metropolitan area, real per capita personal income declined 2.2 percent.

For more information, see the press release from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. To explore further data on incomes in South Dakota, see our interactive charts and graphs.

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Personal income declined by $336 million or 0.8 percent in South Dakota during the first quarter of 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Sharp drops in farm incomes throughout the Great Plains were a major factor.

Across the United States, earnings increased 0.8 percent in the first quarter of 2015. Declines in farm income more than offset income gains in all other sectors in South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa. Among the fifty states, only Iowa turned in a lower personal income performance than South Dakota.

Net earnings from wages and business income actually dropped 1.9 percent in the state in the first quarter. Cost-of-living increases for Social Security benefits helped offset some of this decline in the state’s personal income by increasing transfer receipts by 1.4 percent, while increases of 0.8 percent in earnings from dividends, interest and rents provided another boost to an otherwise flagging economy.

In South Dakota, seasonally adjusted Farm earnings fell by $696 million from the fourth quarter of 2014, down 25.29 percent. The strongest growth sectors on a percentage basis were Utilities (up 3.54 percent) and Construction (up 2.89 percent). Health Care and Social Assistance saw the largest increase in actual earnings, up $65 million in the first quarter.

For further details, see the release from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

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Taxpayer money sent to public K-12 education in South Dakota and across the United States goes largely to teacher salaries and benefits, shows a South Dakota Dashboard analysis of recently released federal data for the year 2013.Education.Series.logo3

Teacher salaries consumed 34.4 percent of the $1.3 billion public schools in South Dakota received from federal, state and local taxpayers. An additional 9.7 percent went towards employee benefits for teachers. All totaled, the $579.5 million spent on teacher pay and benefits equaled nearly 44.1 percent of K-12 education funds allocated statewide. 

South Dakota came close to the national average for the proportion of education dollars spent on teacher pay and benefits, although the dollar amount remains well behind average. Nationally, nearly 34.8 percent of public school funding was used to pay teachers' salaries plus another 13 percent for teachers' benefits. In total, teacher pay and benefits consumed 47.8 percent of the nation's K-12 public school funding in 2013.

Salaries and benefits for support staff in South Dakota, including administrators, accounted for 18.7 percent ($391 million), with $189 million (14.4 percent) in salaries and nearly $57 million (4.3 percent) in benefits. This also came close to the national figures, which were 15 percent for support staff salaries and 5.9 percent for support staff benefits.

An additional 4.9 percent of spending ($65 million) was used for “all other functions” in South Dakota. Expenditures for adult education, community services and other non-elementary-secondary programs are included in this category. South Dakota’s rate of spending for services outside of instructional and support staff is on par with the national average of 4.6 percent.

The federal report, Public Education Finances 2013, from the U.S. Census Bureau, slices school spending several different ways for all 50 states. Here's a look at how much is spent on “support” categories in South Dakota.

The report breaks down the $391 million spent on “support. .

  • Pupil support - $60.7 million (4.6 percent)

  • Instructional staff support - $44.5 million (3.4 percent)

  • General administration - $38.1 million (3 percent)

  • School administration - $53.6 million (4.1 percent)

  • Operation & maintenance - $115.4 million (8.8 percent)

  • Pupil transportation - $41.8 million (3.2 percent)

  • Non-specified support - $36.6 million (2.8 percent) 

Education Data Series

This look at K-12 spending is the second in a series of reports highlighting data specific to education prepared by the South Dakota Dashboard and the Black Hills Knowledge Network. The series will examine what the available data shows about education funding, practices and achievements both statewide and in individual school districts. To view other segments, see our Education Data Series Archive.

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