• In 2016, 406,817 South Dakotans aged 16-64 were working, accounting for 76.2% of the working-age population (534,082). This figure includes the self-employed and farm workers, even if unpaid.

  • South Dakota ranked No. 6 nationally for its proportion of working-age residents doing work in 2016. North Dakota ranked No. 1 at 79.3%, while West Virginia ranked 50th, at 60.1%.

  • In 2016, 28.9% of South Dakotans over age 25 held bachelor's degrees or higher, lagging the national average of 31.3%. South Dakota ranked 30th among the 50 states on this metric.

  • Clay County ranked first among South Dakota's 66 counties for those over 25 holding bachelor's degrees or higher, with an average of 45.0% between 2011 and 2015. Buffalo County ranked 66th, at 9.5%.

44 percent growth in farm income between the second and third quarters of 2015 put South Dakota on top nationally for personal income growth, according to a U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis news release

"Farm earnings grew 17.5 percent (nationwide) in the third quarter after falling 4.5 percent in the second. The increase in farm earnings exceeded 25 percent in six of the seven states in the Plains Region (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota) and contributed the most to their personal income growth. Third-quarter farm earnings primarily reflected lower production expenses, including lower fuel and livestock costs."

Overall, the Rushmore state's income grew 2.2 percent quarter-over-quarter, making it No. 1 for growth in that timeframe. That provides a rebound after South Dakota's personal income shrunk 2.7 percent between the fourth quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015, then grew 1.4 percent into the second quarter of 2015.

Now at No. 1, South Dakota was followed closely by neighbors Nebraska, at No. 2, and Iowa, at No. 3. Other neighbors ranked No. 11 - Minnesota; No. 16 -- Montana; No. 44 -- Wyoming, and No. 48 -- North Dakota. 

Both Wyoming and North Dakota have been hit by continued contraction in the oil industry, and income from their mining industries have shrunk. In South Dakota, mining income fell 0.6 percent between Q2 and Q3 2016. Nationally, earnings fell 1.9 percent in mining in the third quarter, after falling 5.5 percent in the second quarter and 0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2015.

Despite the slow-down in the energy sector, personal income grew in every state between Q2 and Q3 2015, with an average growth of 1.3 percent among the 50 states. Alaska experienced the least amount of growth, at 0.6 percent. 

Nationally, nonfarm earnings grew 1.3 percent in both the second and third quarters. of 2015 The largest percentage increases in the third quarter were in Arizona and Oregon where nonfarm earnings grew 1.6 percent. A non-farm breakout for South Dakota was not provided. 

Read more about Incomes on the South Dakota Dashboard.

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Transportation-related injuries resulted in the highest number of work-related deaths in South Dakota in 2014, reports the Sioux Falls Argus Leader

That year, 12 of the state's 28 work-related deaths resulted from transportation incidents, according to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Falls, slips and trips led to eight deaths, while contact with equipment or objects led to five. 

With nine deaths, the agiculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry had the highest number. Construction came in second with six deaths. 

Read more about Workforce on South Dakota Dashboard

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More South Dakotans were working in 2014 than in any year since at least 2000, according to recently updated federal data. That holds true whether the state's workforce is measured by the number of individuals or by the percentage of the total population. 

In 2014, 77.6 percent of South Dakota adults held jobs, up from a recent low of 75.1 percent in 2011. That workforce was made up of 413,853 people, up from 355,562 in 2000. 

That placed the Rushmore State at No. 2 for the most adults working behind No. 1 Nebraska at 77.8 percent. West Virginia ranked last at 59.7 percent. Nationally, the rate was 68 percent, down from a recent high of 70.7 percent in 2008. 

Both teens and those 65 and older worked at higher rates than they did before the Great Recession struck in late 2008. Nearly half (49.6 percent) of South Dakotans ages 16-19 worked in 2014, a high since 2000 when the rate was 50.9 percent. Those rates compare to a recent low of 41.1 percent in 2010.

More than a third (34 percent) of South Dakota's senior citizens worked in 2014, compared to 28.1 percent in 2000. That age group's rate had hovered at just below 30 percent until it increased to more than 33 percent in 2011. It has stayed near that level since.

The Sioux Falls metro area (Lincoln, McCook, Minnehaha, and Turner counties) continued its trend of exceeding the statewide figure, with 82.6 percent of adults working. That's a high since 2008, when 83.4 percent of adults were working in the metro area. In the Rapid City metro area (Pennington, Meade and Custer counties), the trend remains at slightly below the statewide average. In 2014, 77.2 percent of adults were working, also a high since 2008 when the rate was 77.9 percent. 

South Dakota males continued the trend of working at higher rates than females, logging the widest gender gap in recent history in 2014. Males ages 16-64 worked at a rate of 80.2 percent, compared to 74.9 percent for females of the same ages. Females logged a recent high rate of 76.9 percent in 2008 when males worked at a rate of 80.6 percent -- the only rate higher than 2014 in recent history.


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South Dakota had begun to narrow the education spending gap with its neighbors at the start of this decade, but state budget cuts in 2011 widened the difference and the gap has continued to grow in recent years, a South Dakota Dashboard analysis of federal data shows.Education.Series.logo3

That gap was the smallest in 2008 and grew to its widest disparity in the five-year period by 2013, the most recent year for which data measuring all the states is available. 

The federal data measures state and school district revenue and spending between 2008 and 2013, including revenue from the federal, state and local levels. It shows that South Dakota had increased per-student spending in 2008 and 2009 and was on track to almost catch up with the pack by 2013. The next lowest spender in the region, Iowa, held mostly steady between 2009 and 2010 while South Dakota increased per-student spending by 4.1 percent. From 2010 to 2011 Iowa registered only a 0.4 percent increase, but South Dakota cut 0.6 percent and fell further behind.


Had South Dakota continued making 4.1 percent increases each year, the state would have reached 97 percent of Iowa's per-student spending by 2013. Instead, the cuts left South Dakota's per-student spending at 82 percent of Iowa's in 2013, compared to 90 percent in 2008 and 91 percent in 2010. 

Here's a look at how South Dakota's per-student spending has compared to other neighboring states during the same years: 

   2013  2010  2008
Nebraska  73% 83%   87%
Montana  80%  84%  87%
North Dakota  71%  81%  86%
Minnesota 76% 83% 83%
Wyoming 54% 58% 60%


Neighboring states have, in some cases, suffered modest cuts or temporary stagnation during the five-year period, but the overwhelming regional trend is continued increases in K-12 per-student spending, as the chart shows. 

South Dakota has countered this trend and by 2013 had not returned to spending levels the preceded the 2011 across-the-board budget cuts that precipitated the drop in education spending. In 2013, South Dakota's K-12 spending had ticked past its 2008 level of $8,367, but had not yet reached the five-year high of 2010 ($8,858).

Education Data Series

This look at K-12 spending in South Dakota and surrounding states is the third 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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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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This week the South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development officially launched the South Dakota Real Wage Calculator (SDRWC), a tool that calculates the impact of income taxes and cost of living on wages across the nation. This virtual tool allows users to accurately determine and compare their purchasing power – the after tax wages adjusted by cost of living – in over 400 cities nationwide. Users can also compare salaries for up to three different locations at once. 

Learn more about this tool at the South Dakota GOED's blog post.

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Monday, 13 April 2015 00:00

Manufacturing Leads SD For Jobs Growth

Manufacturing led the way for job growth in South Dakota between Febrary 2015 and February 2014, according to recently released federal data.

That sector added 1,700 jobs year-over-year, followed closely by the Education/Health sector, which added 1,600 jobs. Other year-over-year growth sectors included the following:

  • Wholesale Trade (up 1,000 jobs)
  • Mining/Logging/Construction (up 900 jobs)
  • Retail Trade (up 800 jobs)
  • Services (up 400 jobs)
  • Goverment (up 200 jobs) 

The Leisure/Hospitality sector led for job losses, down 700 year-over-year. The Professional/Business Services and Financial Activities sectors were down 400 jobs each, while the Transportation Sector was down 100 jobs and the Information sector held steady with no gains or losses. 

Overall, South Dakota added 5,000 jobs from February 2014 to February 2015, a 1.2 percent increase. That ranks the state 41st among the 50 states for year-over-year job growth and sets us just ahead of neighboring Nebraska, which saw 1.1 percent growth, and ahead of Montana, which tied with West Virginia for last place with 0.3 percent growth.

Utah, with 4.2 percent job growth, edged out neighboring North Dakota for the No. 1 slot. North Dakota logged 4 percent job growth and easily led the region, besting No. 27 Minnesota (1.7 percent growth), No. 30 Iowa (1.6 percent growth) and No. 35 Wyoming (1.4 percent growth).

When looking month-over-month, February 2015 marked South Dakota's best month for jobs growth since June 2014. From January 2015 to February 2015, the state added 3,500 jobs. That followed three straight months of downturns, including a 12-month record drop of 9,600 jobs between December 2014 and January 2015.


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Monday, 19 January 2015 17:00

Manufacturing, Wholesale Trade Surge in SD

The manufacturing sector is on a tear in South Dakota, accounting for more than half of the 3,500 jobs created statewide between November 2013 and November 2014, according to recently updated federal data

The wholesale trade sector runs a close second, with 1,400 new jobs over the 12-month period compared to manufacturing's 1,800 new jobs. Government and "other services" tie for the No. 3 spot with 800 new jobs in each sector. 

Three sectors shed jobs during that time - leisure/hospitality (-700), education/health (-600) and retail trade (-500). 

Statewide, jobs grew by 0.8 percent from November 2013 to November 2014, for 422,200 jobs and ranking South Dakota 41st nationally. Oil-boom states North Dakota and Texas led the nation, with job growth rates of 4.9 percent and 3.9 percent respectively. Mississippi and Alaska ranked at the bottom for job growth and were the only two states to lose jobs in the 12-month period, down 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent respectively. 

South Dakota's recent job growth appears concentrated in the metropolitan areas, with jobs flat in the micropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. 

Find much more data, exportable images and downloadable files about Jobs on the South Dakota Dashboard.

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Monday, 04 February 2013 00:00

Educational Attainment

South Dakotans Getting More Educated

More South Dakotans are graduating from high school and pursuing higher education than ten years ago, according to federal data. Just 8.8% of individuals over 25 had less than a high school diploma while 19.6% of South Dakotans have a bachelor’s degree.

At the same time, the proportion of South Dakotans without a high school diploma has been dropping, as has the rate of those who did not get further education beyond a high school diploma or GED. 

   Less than high school diploma  11.7%  8.8%
   High school diploma or GED   33.9%  29.0%
   Associate's degree   9.2%  11.5%
   Some college, no degree  20.3%  21.8%
   Bachelor's degree  17.6%  19.6%
   Professional/graduate degree  7.2%  7.9%

Although graduation rates are improving across South Dakota, the state still lags behind national educational attainment rates. The Rushmore State has persistently ranked 2-3 points behind national educational attainment rates for the past ten years. In 2016, 28.9% of South Dakotans had obtained a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 31.3% nationally. In 2006, those rates were 24.8% and 27% respectively.

In 2016, South Dakota ranked 30th nationally for the percentage of residents over the age of 25 who had completed a bachelor's degree or higher, moving up four places from 2015. Massachusetts clinched the No. 1 spot with 42.7%, and West Virginia landed in last place at 20.8%.

For the first time since the Great Recession, South Dakota matched the national rate for bachelor’s degrees or higher among those aged 24-34. In the years leading up to the Great Recession in 2008-2009, South Dakota exceeded the national rate for bachelor's degrees or higher among those age 25-34. Following the recession, that trend reversed. In 2015, the percent of South Dakotans who earned at least a bachelor’s degree was 31.3% compared to 34.1% for the nation as a whole.

Nationally, South Dakota ranks 22nd for the percentage of young adults holding college degrees, compared to No. 1 Massachusetts (51.3%) and No. 50 Nevada (22.7%).


The percentage of South Dakotans with at least a bachelor’s degree continues to be 10 percentage points higher in metropolitan areas than in non-metropolitan areas. Those living in micropolitan areas continue to hold these degrees at a slightly lesser rate than those living in  metropolitan areas.

For the years 2012-2016, 30.4% of South Dakotans in metropolitan areas held bachelor’s and advanced degrees compared to 29.4% for micropolitan areas and 20.0% for non-metro areas. For the years 2007-2011, those rates were 28.8%, 28.0% and 18.8% respectively.

For bachelor's and advanced degrees, the Sioux Falls metro area continues to exceed the rate of the states other metropolitan areas. In 2016, the rate for bachelor's degree or higher in the Sioux Falls metro area was 34.1% compared to 29.5% for the Rapid City metro area and 21.4% for the Sioux City metro area.

The Brookings and Vermillion micropolitan areas posted even higher educational attainment rates as they house the state's two largest universities. For the years 2012-2016, the Brookings micropolitan area averaged a 41.0% rate for residents holding a bachelor's degree or higher, while the Vermillion micropolitan area averaged 47.8%. These rates are more than double the rates in the Huron and Watertown micropolitan areas of 20.3% and 20.8%, respectively.


In South Dakota, Asians are far more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to have earned a bachelor's degree or higher. For the years 2012-2016, Asians averaged a rate of 41.4% on this score, compared to 29.1% for Whites, 20.1% for Blacks, 16.2% for Hispanics and 10.4% for Native Americans.

Women continue to outpace men for educational attainment in South Dakota. In 2006, 25.5% of women held college degrees compared to 24.2% of men. In 2016, the rate was 31.1% for women and 26.6% for men.

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