Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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South Dakota e-Labor Bulletin

January 2017

Local Employment Dynamics (LED) and

Quarterly Workforce Indicators:

Connecting Demographics to Labor Market Information

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Local Employment Dynamics program, based on a partnership with the states, integrates states’ existing worker and employment data with censuses and surveys. This partnership is the foundation for the Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) data set. QWI allows users to examine more than 30 labor force indicators across a range of worker and firm characteristics. The interactive QWI Explorer tool generates tables, charts and maps on employment, turnover, wages, new hires, etc. and enables users to compare the data across geographies, time and demographics with a few mouse clicks.

QWI Explorer lets users quickly examine labor force data, including beginning of quarter employment. Beginning of quarter employment is the total number of workers employed by a given employer on the first calendar day of the reference quarter. It is the Census Bureau’s best indicator for point-in-time quarterly employment.

Looking at South Dakota’s annual employment trends during the past 10 years (2006-2015), users can see beginning of quarter employment increased through 2008, but faltered in 2009, due to a recession-driven decline. After a smaller decline in 2010, employment began trending upward again. Beginning of quarter employment increased by 9.3 percent during the 10-year span.

While other data sources provide this same data, QWI is unique in that users can break out this data in a variety of ways, including a comparison of how male and female workers fared during this period.

While employment decreased for both sexes during 2009, female workers fared better than male workers did. This may be partially due the industries most affected during the downturn. Using QWI Explorer to look at employment data for the top industries by gender may provide some insight. QWI classifies industries according to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Users can find the top industries over the last 10 years and the distribution of workers by gender in these industries.

The industries listed below have made up the top five sectors for all workers in South Dakota for more than 10 years.

Top Five Industries for Workers in South Dakota (percentage of all workers), 2006-2015 average:

  • Health Care and Social Assistance (15.3%)
  • Retail Trade (13.2%)
  • Manufacturing (10.6%)
  • Accommodation and Food Services (9.7%)
  • Educational Services (8.9%)

Of the top five industries, Manufacturing dropped the most and at a greater rate than the overall drop in 2009. The declines in Retail Trade and Accommodation and Food Services were similar to the overall percentage decline in 2009. The Health Care and Social Assistance sector, thanks in part to an aging population in need of care, weathered the recession well and continued its upward trajectory. Despite a slight dip in 2013, Educational Services maintained its slow, steady climb upward overall as well.

When users break down the industry data along gender lines, a few changes in order and industries occur. For male workers, Educational Services and Health Care and Social Assistance dropped out of the top five, and Construction and Wholesale Trade climbed up the ranks. 

Top Five Industries for Male Workers in South Dakota (percentage of the male workforce), 2006-2015 average:

  • Manufacturing (15.4 percent)
  • Retail Trade (13.1 percent)
  • Construction (10.2 percent)
  • Accommodation and Food Service (8.3 percent)
  • Wholesale Trade (8.0 percent)

QWI Explorer shows in three of these top five industries,  a majority of workers in Construction, Wholesale Trade and Manufacturing were male. 

Corresponding to the overall trend for Manufacturing, male workers in this sector suffered the greatest percentage losses during the recession. As consumer and business spending slowed, the demand for manufactured goods declined. The housing bubble burst affected the male-dominant Construction sector and led to greater than overall average percentage declines for this sector’s employment. In turn, Construction’s decline affected Manufacturing sectors dependent on the construction industry. While the top five industries have all been on an upward trend for at least the last couple of years, Construction is still down more than two percent from its peak employment level in 2008. The other industries’ beginning of employment levels reached 10-year highs in 2015.

For female workers, Finance and Insurance joins the top five as Manufacturing misses the cut.

Top Five Industries for Female Workers in South Dakota (percentage of the female workforce), 2006-2015 average:

  • Health Care and Social Assistance (24.1 percent)
  • Retail Trade (13.3 percent)
  • Educational Services (11.8 percent)
  • Accommodation and Food Service (11.0 percent)
  • Finance and Insurance (8.5 percent)

QWI Explorer shows more than half of workers in each of the top five industries for female workers were women.

Women comprised a substantial majority of the workers in Health Care and Social Assistance, a sector with steadily increasing employment for the last 10 years. Educational Services also maintained a minimal increase, marred only by a minor dip in 2013. Finance and Insurance incurred employment losses in seven out of the last 10 years, though over the last two years the decline has been less than 1 percent.  

QWI Explorer also breaks out beginning of quarter employment data by other worker demographics.


Those 25 to 34 years old had similar patterns to the overall trend. Younger workers (24 years and under) as well as those 35 to 44 years initially had slight declines at least one year prior to the overall tumble in 2009. They also experienced greater declines in employment than reflected in overall numbers, most notably in 2009. Most affected was the youngest age group (14- to 18-year-olds), where employment dropped by double-digit percentage points in 2009 and 2010. Many of these youngest workers were employed in the Retail Services sector and the Accommodation and Food Services sector. Some of the declines in these industries may have been a result of consumers’ reluctance to travel and dine out during the recession. While the 35-44 group has recouped its worker losses, the younger age groups have not returned to their employment peaks in the last 10 years, but employment has trended upward since 2011.  While the 45-54 age group’s decline in 2009 also was similar to the overall numbers, this age group has continued on a slight downward track since. Some of this may be due to more workers transitioning out of the 45-54 age group than are entering into it. The two eldest categories (55-64 and 65-99) endured the recession well, both with consistent increases in employment over the last 10 years. Some of this may be due to people working longer to save more money for retirement.


Educational attainment reflects an individual’s maximum education level, but is applicable only for workers 25 years and older. The Census Bureau places workers 24 years and younger in the “educational attainment not available” category. As previously noted in the age section, employment levels for these younger workers dropped the most. While not yet back to pre-recession levels, employment levels have risen during the last half of the 10-year span for these workers. Employment levels for all other educational groups declined slightly in 2009 but have since surpassed beginning of quarter employment levels in 2006. Of the categories with available education levels, only those with a high school or equivalent education declined by more than 1 percent at any point during the 10-year period.


South Dakota’s workforce, like the state’s population, has become more diverse in the past 10 years. Minority groups have had greater percentage increases in employment over the last 10 years, but make up less than 10 percent of all beginning of quarter employment as of 2015. Employment levels for the White group closely mirrors overall employment trends. Employment levels for the American Indian or Alaskan Indian group, the second largest group in the state, declined by one percentage point more than the overall beginning of quarter employment in 2009. All groups have been on an upward trend since 2009 or 2010. While making up less than 2 percent of South Dakota’s employment in 2015, the Black or African American group’s employment level increased by 87 percent from 2006 to 2015; levels rose more than 60 percent between 2010 and 2015.


The Hispanic and Latino employment level has grown by more than 40 percent from 2006 to 2015. The Not Hispanic or Latino group has increased by a little more than 8 percent during that same period, which is close to the overall increase in employment of slightly more than 9 percent. Both groups declined in 2009, but both have passed their respective employment levels from 2006.

These examples just scratch the surface of the data that can be mined with LED data through QWI Explorer. The Labor Market Information Center (LMIC) also uses LED data in its Metro Area Profiles for the Sioux Falls and Rapid City MSAs and as part of the calculations for monthly labor Labor Supply data. Explore what else can be found by creating your own table, chart and map using the QWI Explorer Tool. The QWI Explorer Help and Documentation page contains tutorials, FAQs and more. The LMIC’s economic analysts are familiar with the tools and are available to assist you as well. Please contact us as needed for assistance.