Dec 22, 2017

South Dakota Has Some of Nation’s Largest Employment Gaps for Minorities

South Dakota has the largest employment gap between American Indians and Whites in the nation, according to recent estimates from the U.S. Census. In 2016, the employment rate of  White adults in South Dakota was 35.2 percentage points higher than for American Indian adults.

South Dakota ranked 49th in the nation for proportion of American Indian adults working at just 45.2% in 2016. By comparison, 80.4% of White adults were at work—the second highest proportion in the nation. Overall, the Rushmore State ranked No. 6 in the nation for proportion of adults working. The table below highlights the proportion of adults at work  by ethnicity for all states in the northern plains region.

Regional Employment Rates (%)
Asian Black Hispanic White
 Iowa  61.9 66.5 62.1 70.3 80.2
 Minnesota  53.5 70.9 62.6 71.5 79.6
 Montana 49.9 67.5 67.4 66.9 72.8
 Nebraska 52.9 66.1 65.3 71.3 79.6
 North Dakota 53.2 76.0 73.2 74.7 80.6
 South Dakota 45.2 67.5 66.9 69.6 80.4
 Wyoming  54.2 68.1 62.8 71.8 74.8

The data show that employment disparities existed between White working adults and other minority groups as well. Asian South Dakotan adults are 12.9% less likely to be at work than White (non-Hispanic) adults, and Black South Dakotan adults are 13.5% less likely to work than White adults. Hispanic adults in South Dakota had the smallest employment gap when compared to Whites at 10.8%.

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