Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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South Dakota e-Labor Bulletin

December 2020

Make It a South Dakota Christmas

Christmas 2020 is almost here! This holiday season, like most of 2020, will likely be a little different than usual. But South Dakotans are a resilient bunch, and we will figure out ways to make this weird time feel as normal as it can. We’re accustomed to looking for ways to help each other and keep our communities thriving. One easy way to do this is to keep our holiday spending as local as possible. Lucky for us, this state’s entrepreneurs produce some amazing, high-quality and unique products which make excellent gifts.

Some South Dakota Gift Ideas

Candles, Lotions and Soaps

Some of the 2,853 workers in South Dakota’s Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing sector work in establishments which produce candles, soaps and lotions. Some of these establishments utilize another South Dakota product, the soybean. The candles, lotions and soaps produced by these establishments also use a variety of the state’s other natural resources and products to make these a truly unique gift anyone on your Christmas list would be sure to enjoy.

Paintings, Photos, Wood and other Sculptures and Fine Artwork

With all of this state’s natural beauty and simple lifestyle it is not surprising her people would nurture their inner artist, photographer or other fine art skills in order to replicate the stunning beauty of this state. An original painting of the mirror-like finish on one of South Dakota’s numerous lakes or streams, or a replicated painting of an old house still standing after having sheltered generations of the sturdy South Dakota pioneer would be a treasured gift. Or, perhaps, a photograph of the well-weathered face of a farmer or a rancher is on your list. How about a carving of the simple beauty of a pheasant taking flight, a walleye putting up a fight or the majesty of a trophy white-tailed buck? South Dakota’s artists are sure to capture the heart and soul of objects that will speak to you. A wide variety of South Dakota establishments sell these remarkable keepsakes. A gift of a photo, print or carving is the perfect way to say Merry Christmas from the sunshine state.

While Mount Rushmore might be the largest and most famous of the South Dakota sculptures, this unique talent is still alive and well in the Great Faces, Great Places state. Whether the medium used to create these beautiful sculptures is a Black Hills spruce log, a prairie rock or something as unique as a South Dakota gourd, a bison horn or deer antler, the sculpture will make a unique and treasured gift.

This state’s artists utilize their imagination and talents to bring to life images and items too numerous to mention. Anyone on your “good list” would treasure the gift of art. You can find these types of products at some of the 429 Miscellaneous Store Retailers across South Dakota. You might even be able to find a carved or engraved rock or chunk of coal for those on your “naughty list.”


What recipient wouldn’t love pottery? How about a vase, stoneware, pitcher or other vessel made by the talented hand and imagination of this state’s artists? Some of the South Dakota pottery for sale is created by her First People and decorated with sacred designs featuring the Lakota culture. From local artists selling their product by word of mouth or at craft fairs or a large company offering tours where their guests can watch stunning pieces come to life, a related gift would be priceless to your loved one. There is no shortage of these types of heirloom gifts. If attending a craft fair isn’t an option, don’t fret. South Dakota’s Gift, Novelty and Souvenir Stores sector has 97 establishments which employ about 585 workers ready to help you find the perfect gift.

Customized Laser and Embroidered Products

Who wouldn’t love a personalized laser-engraved jewelry box, flask, mirror or set of glassware? How about an embroidered tote, backpack, coat, sweatshirt or hoodie? Depending on what you are looking for, check out South Dakota’s gift, novelty and souvenir stores for the perfect gift. If you can’t find it there, you may want to check one of the state’s 344 Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores, where nearly 2,800 employees are ready, willing and able to help you. So, don’t forget to keep these establishments on your must-stop-at list this holiday season.

Jewelry and Leather Goods

South Dakota is home to some of the finest gold jewelry produced anywhere in the world. The gift of jewelry is a special way to let those you love know how important they are to you. Gold jewelry is not the only game in South Dakota. There are many gifted jewelers creating many different jeweled products, from incredible and intrinsic native bead work, to glass and gem pendants and products. Nothing says Merry Christmas like a new leather purse or wallet. How about a leather jacket, moccasins, slippers or fedora? If your budget is tight, the gift of a handmade leather bracelet, key chain or knife sheath is always welcome. South Dakota has about 45 establishments in the Jewelry, Luggage and Leather Good Stores sector in South Dakota. These establishments employ an average of 247 workers.

There are many South Dakota artisans (such as the self-employed) who are not counted in the numbers we’ve mentioned but would be more than happy to work with you to create personalized and one-of-a-kind gifts. You can find these talented people at craft fairs, on social media, in ads in your local newspaper and by word of mouth. You might be surprised how many of them are right in your own backyard.

Food and Beverages

We would be remiss if we didn’t take a look at the South Dakota establishments, large and small, who produce the best tasting food and treats there are. From tried and true businesses which have been producing scrumptious eats like kuchen, sausage, jerky, potato chips and cheese for many years to the relative newcomers bringing salsa, wing and hot sauce to the foodie world, gift ideas abound. Let’s not forget wine and craft beers. The 134 Food Manufacturers in South Dakota employ an average of 10,841 workers. In addition, the state’s Food and Beverage Stores industry have an average of 9,261 workers in 336 establishments. Together, these manufacturers and retailers work diligently to ensure everyone has access to some of South Dakota’s tastiest cuisine.

Need more tasty gift options?

  • Consider a selection of cheeses. South Dakota is home to seven Dairy Product Manufacturing establishments which employ an average of 1,182 workers.
  • For the carnivores on your list, how about a meat tray? There are 48 Meat Markets employing over 471 workers in South Dakota.
  • You can’t go wrong with candy or nuts for an enjoyable Christmas gift. There is an average of 80 employees working in eight Confectionary and Nut stores.
  • Help your loved one get in the spirit of the holidays. There are 41 South Dakota Beer, Wine and Liquor stores which employ 253 workers.

Toys and Gadgets

Are you looking for a handmade doll house, rag doll, rubber band gun, rocking horse or Jacob’s ladder for the young people (or maybe the young at heart) on your Christmas list? How about a wooden puzzle, board or outdoor game? Perhaps it is ironwork art, etched glass or etched mirrors or other unique and clever must-have gadgets you are in search of. If it’s hand-made gifts you are looking for, don’t forget to check out some art and craft fairs. There may not be as many craft fairs going on as normal, and they may be held differently this year (such as virtual fairs), but there are still opportunities to buy from these types of vendors.

If you are not able to attend one yourself, ask an eager elf to help you track down those special gifts. However, if Santa (or the eager elf) can’t find a craft fair, or you can’t find what you are looking for there, be sure to check out retailers in the Hobby, Toy and Game Stores sector. South Dakota has an estimated 42 of these establishments employing nearly 500 workers statewide. Or maybe stop at one of the 97 Gift, Novelty and Souvenir Stores which employ an average of 584 workers. You could also check out some of the 157 Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers (which employ 823 workers) for these special items. Many of these retailers carry the season’s most popular and trending toys for the good girls and boys on your list, no matter their age.

The Gift of an Experience

If those on your nice list have everything they need, don’t forget the state offers other great options. How about making reservations for a great winter get away? How about a winter retreat to enjoy the great South Dakota outdoors while doing some skiing (cross-country or downhill), snowmobiling, cold weather camping, hunting or ice-fishing? For a special treat, why not splurge on a guided or resort hunting or fishing experience for those you love?

If the great outdoors is not for the person on your list, what about a stay at one of the state’s many bed and breakfast establishments, hotels or motels? While there, they could scout the area for a great “mom and pop” specialty store, eating establishment or other business in the area. South Dakota’s Accommodation industry has 593 establishments employing an average of 8,384 workers, while the Food Services and Drinking Places industry has 1,919 establishments employing 31,769 workers.

How about giving the gift of an overnight shopping trip to one of the state’s retail hubs, or, tickets to a college or university game? If you want to give the gift that keeps on giving, how about a season pass for activities such as swimming, the zoo, ice or roller skating? How about a gift card for the movie theater? Or a pass or yearly park license for the great parks we have in South Dakota? What about treating a special someone to a hunting and/or fishing license? These are just a few of the endless activities those on your list might enjoy receiving.

Other Gift Ideas

If you enjoy seasonal kiosk stores (selling sport team logo items such as hats and jerseys, gift baskets of sausage, cheese and jellies, or calendars and specialty games), don’t forget to support those as well.

This state is filled with so many great businesses, giving homage to all of them seems impossible. We’ve mentioned a small sampling of the products and industries in South Dakota. We haven’t yet mentioned everyday businesses such as your local grocery store, your favorite restaurant or diner, your local general merchandise store or your favorite big box or specialty store. Don’t overlook the brick and mortar big box stores and regional and national department stores dotting South Dakota business environments.

All these businesses are there for us throughout the year, not just at Christmastime. Supporting them all, keeping the money in South Dakota’s towns, cities or metro areas will help ensure these businesses continue to be here for us in the future.

Don’t take any of these South Dakota businesses for granted, especially this year with all the additional challenges they have faced to remain in business. South Dakota employers and businesses are working hard to keep their businesses open. They continue striving to keep their employees safe, and their employees are working hard to serve you while keeping you safe. In many cases, just keeping their doors open has been costly for businesses—needing to put new infrastructure and protocols in place. So let’s all make this a grassroot South Dakota Christmas.

Supporting South Dakota Businesses in Other Ways

Shop locally when you can and don’t forget to take advantage of the new services in place. Many businesses which never had an online presence now do. You can order their products and services online and either have them delivered to your home or pick them up curb-side. Many businesses have added delivery services, making it possible to order food from your favorite restaurant to eat in the comfort and safety of your own home. Other establishments have added delivery services as well, offering the convenience of groceries or other items delivered right to your door.

Please remember to support your community not only when purchasing gifts, but while making other holiday preparations like planning menus and buying ingredients for those special holiday treats both savory and sweet, writing and sending Christmas cards or preparing for a trip to spend time with those you love.

Regardless, of whether you plan to tech out and shop online, do in-store pick up, or do in-person shopping this year, stay safe and be well. We wish you a magical holiday season, made right here in South Dakota!

About the Source of the Employment Data

The statistics provided above are average fourth quarter 2019 data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program. The Labor Market Information Center oversees the program in South Dakota, which is conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The source of the majority of QCEW microdata is the employment and wage data reported by employers to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation’s Reemployment Assistance (RA, unemployment insurance) program and to the Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program. South Dakota receives quarterly contribution reports from all private sector employers as well as from state and local governments covered under the RA program. Federal government employers provide statistical reports via the Report of Federal Employment and Wages. Employment covered by these unemployment insurance programs represents about 96% of all wage and salary civilian employment in the state.

Employment data under the QCEW program represent the number of covered workers who worked during, or received pay for, the pay period including the 12th of the month. Excluded are members of the armed forces, the self-employed, proprietors, domestic workers, unpaid family workers and railroad workers covered by the railroad unemployment insurance system.

Learn more about the QCEW program or find QCEW data in the virtual labor market data system using the link and instructions on our QCEW menu page.