• In 2016, South Dakota ranked 23rd among the 50 states for economic output per working age adult, at $77,644. This compared to No. 1 Delaware, at $100,269, No. 50 Mississippi, at $50,138, and the national average, at $78,304.

  • South Dakota's tourism tax is on the upswing, going from $745 million in 2015 to $831 million in 2016. (Inflation adjusted figures are used based on 2016 dollars.) South Dakota's tourism tax revenue has continued to increase year over year since 2011. 

  • South Dakota's gross sales decreased slightly in 2016 to $67.5 billion, down from $69.1 billion, (inflation adjusted dollars) in 2015. 

  • Jobs in South Dakota resumed modest annual growth in 2011 after the state shed jobs in 2009 and 2010. Jobs in the Rushmore State hit an all-time high in 2016 at 432,700. The figures exclude the self-employed as well as agriculture, domestic and military workers.

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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State spending for South Dakota’s public K-12 schools covers less than a third of the cost of education while local taxpayers pay more than half the bill, according to a South Dakota Dashboard analysis of recently released federal data.

South Dakota ranks almost dead last in state-level funding and lags every neighboring state for total per-pupil spending, the data shows.Education.Series.logo3

In 2013, South Dakota ranked 49th among the 50 states for per-pupil spending from the state level, which was $3,131 per student. At the same time, local property taxpayers ponied up $5,461 per student, ranking South Dakota 18th for public-school support from local taxpayers. South Dakota ranks 6th for federal support, which was $1,495 per pupil in 2013 (the most recent year for which nationwide data is available.)

In total, South Dakota spent more than $1.1 billion on public K-12 schools in 2013, with $712 million (54 percent) coming from local taxes, $408 million (31 percent) from the state level and $195 million (15 percent) from the federal level.

In addition, South Dakota ranks last among all neighboring states for total per-pupil spending, including local, state and federal sources. In 2013, total per-pupil spending was $10,087, placing the state 41st among the 50 states. Neighboring Wyoming ranked sixth and spent $18,498 with $9,626 coming from the state level.


Here's a look at the national ranking for per-pupil spending in the remaining neighboring states:

  • No. 16 North Dakota spent $13,478 with $6,784 from the state level

  • No. 18 Minnesota spent $13,340 with $8,464 from the state level

  • No. 21 Nebraska spent $12,514 with $4,014 from the state level

  • No. 24 Iowa spent $12,072 with $6,243 from the state level

  • No. 29 Montana spent $11,566 with $5,521 from the state level

All data used in this release comes from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 Annual Survey of School System Finances.

Education Data Series

This look at K-12 funding in South Dakota is the first in a series of reports highlighting data specific to education statewide 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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South Dakota’s economy grew by 0.6 percent in 2014, according to data released by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. The state trailed the overall growth of the United States, which was 2.2 percent. South Dakota ranked 41st among the 50 states.

Continuing declines in the agricultural sector accounted for a significant part of the weakness in South Dakota’s economy, but there were also drops in mining, construction, utilities, finance and insurance, and educational services. The strongest parts of the economy included wholesale trade, durable goods manufacturing, retail trade, health care and social assistance.

With this release, the BEA also revised some estimates for previous years. These newly revised numbers show that South Dakota’s economic growth since 2012 has been substantially slower than previously reported. For 2013, GDP dropped from a previously reported level of 3.1 percent to a revised estimate of 0.9 percent. For 2012, GDP was lowered from 0.3 percent to negative 0.9 percent.

Read the full news release online.

The chart below displays recent economic growth by region.



Bureau of Economic Analysis regional map

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New federal rules designed to protect sage grouse habitat will also restrict oil and gas drilling, reports the Associated Press. In South Dakota, both the sage grouse habitat and the bulk of oil and gas activity lie in the northwestern part of the state.

The move -- announced May 28, 2015 -- amounts to the "federal government's biggest land-planning effort to date for conservation of a single species," reports the AP. The plan would require oil and gas drills to be clustered rather than located across a wider area of habitat. 

The government states

The updated plans are central to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's review of the native grouse's "candidate" status under the Endangered Species Act, which is due Sept. 30, 2015.

What was released May 28 was a series of environmental impact statements, which will be followed by a 60-day review period and then a final decision expected by the end of the summer, according to a government news release.

"The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have finalized environmental review for proposed land use plans that will conserve key sagebrush habitat, address identified threats to the greater sage-grouse and promote sustainable economic development in the West," reads a Fact Sheet about the 10-state initiative.

South Dakota's neighbor to the west, Wyoming, has the largest sage grouse population among the 10 states. 

More Information 

Greater Sage Grouse government maps 

Information about South Dakota's Resource Management Plan from the Bureau of Land Management

South Dakota Resource Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement from the Bureau of Land Management

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Growth in South Dakota's three metropolitan areas is driving the state's tourism tax on an upward trend, while growth has been modest in the state's nine micropolitan areas and its non-metro areas, according to recently updated data from the South Dakota Department of Revenue

In 2014, the state's overall taxable tourism sales increased 6.8 percent over 2013, continuing a three-year upward trend after a 2010 spike was followed by a 2011 drop. Growth within the Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Sioux City metro areas accounted for 55 percent of the state's overall $11 million of tourism tax receipts in 2014, up from 53 percent in 2013 and 47 percent in 2012. (All figures are inflation-adjusted to 2014 dollars.)

In 2010, South Dakota's non-metro areas accounted for 17 percent of taxable tourism sales, but that share has since dropped to 10 percent. Micropolitan areas made up more than 25 percent of the state's taxable tourism sales in 2010 and have dipped to a bit more than 23 percent in 2014. 

In 2014, taxable tourism sales in South Dakota hit a six-year high of nearly $732 million, up from $685 million in 2013. During the 2010 spike, taxable tourism sales climbed to more than $673 million, up from 2009's $636 million. In 2011, taxable tourism sales dipped to $655.6 million and remained flat into 2012 before resuming growth in 2013, which hit $685 million.

The Black Hills region -- driven largely by the four key counties of Pennington, Lawrence, Meade and Custer -- accounted for nearly half of the state's taxable tourism sales in 2014. Pennington County (home to Rapid City and Mount Rushmore) maintained its commanding lead, accounting for more than 30 percent of the state's taxable tourism sales in 2014. 

No. 2 Minnehaha County (home to Sioux Falls) put up less than half of that at 14.3 percent. No. 3 was Lawrence County (home to Deadwood) at 9.1 percent, followed by No. 4 Meade County (home to Sturgis) at 4.7 percent and No. 5 Custer County at 4 percent. 

Lodging accounts for the vast majority of the state's taxable tourism sales, with that industry sector making up 58 percent of taxable tourism sales in 2014. This sector increased from 53.8 percent of taxable tourism sales in 2009 to 56.7 percent in the 2010 spike and has continued making small gains since. 

The No. 2 sector, shops and markets, accounted for 11.6 percent of taxable tourism sales in 2014, down from the six-year high of 14.8 percent recorded during the 2010 spike but not back down to 2009's 9.3 percent. No. 3 visitor attractions accounted for 9 percent of taxable tourism sales in 2014, continuing a steady slide since 2009 when it was 12 percent.

Recreational services and rentals accounted for 6.1 percent in 2014, down from a six-year high of 8.1 percent in 2011. Restaurants accounted for 2.7 percent in 2014, a six-year high for that sector. Spectator events and "other visitor-related businesses" accounted for less than 1 percent each. 


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The South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development works to expand primary job opportunities for all South Dakotans. They strive to retain and expand existing businesses, foster new businesses, facilitate business succession and recruit out-of-state businesses. The office works closely with community economic development corporations to expand and diversify the state’s industry and economy. Additionally, the GOED administers a variety of financing opportunities available to new and existing businesses.

The following are resources the South Dakota GOED offers on South Dakota. 

  1. Financing and Incentives- Whether users already operate a business in South Dakota, are starting up a business in South Dakota, or are looking to expand or relocate from outside the state, the SD GOED offers financing programs and information targeted at growing businesses. 
  2. Key Industries- This section provides users specific industry overviews. 
  3. Site Selection DataHere users can find data ranging from a 50 state comparison of tax and workforce statistics to current transportation and quality of life information.
  4. Real Wage Calculator- This tool calculates the impact of income taxes and cost of living on wages across the nation.
  5. GOED Blog- This blog houses features content and updates about the South Dakota GOED and its activities. 
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525 University Loop, Suite 202
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 716-0058   [email protected]