Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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South Dakota e-Labor Bulletin

February 2021

South Dakota Nonfarm Worker Trends in 2020

Please note: Unless otherwise noted, the following highlights are based on a comparison of annual average data for 2019 and 2020.

South Dakota’s nonfarm worker levels had significant declines in 2020, dropping 15,100 workers (3.4%). The 2020 annual average number of workers was 425,400. Statewide, privately owned nonfarm establishments had an average annual loss of 11,800 workers (3.3%), dropping to 348,700 workers in 2020.

South Dakota Statewide
Nonfarm Wage & Salaried Workers by Industry (Not Seasonally Adjusted)
Industry 2019
2020 Annual Average Actual Change Percent Change
Total Nonfarm 440,500 425,400 -15,100 -3.4%
  Total Private 360,500 348,700 -11,800 -3.3%
  Goods Producing 69,600 68,300 -1,300 -1.9%
  Service Providing 370,900 357,000 -13,900 -3.7%
Mining, Logging & Construction 24,600 25,200 600 2.4%
Manufacturing 45,000 43,200 -1,800 -4.0%
Wholesale Trade 21,100 21,000 -100 -0.5%
Retail Trade 51,200 49,600 -1,600 -3.1%
Transportation, Warehousing & Utilities 13,500 13,300 -200 -1.5%
Information 5,500 5,000 -500 -9.1%
Financial Activities 29,000 28,400 -600 -2.1%
Professional & Business Services 33,200 32,700 -500 -1.5%
Education & Health Services 73,200 73,100 -100 -0.1%
Leisure & Hospitality 47,400 40,700 -6,700 -14.1%
Other Services (except Public Administration) 16,800 16,600 -200 -1.2%
Government 80,000 76,700 -3,300 -4.1%
Note: Numbers may not add due to rounding.
Source: Labor Market Information Center, South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation, in cooperation with U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Sioux Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) nonfarm worker level decreased 4,300 workers (2.7%) for a 2020 annual average of 155,800 workers. The Rapid City MSA also declined with a loss of 2,600 workers (3.8%). The bulk of the over-the-year worker level losses are due to COVID-19, with many establishments having reduced staffing in 2020 compared to 2019.

The total nonfarm worker levels mentioned above can be divided into two major components: Goods Producing and Service Providing industries. Goods Producing industries (including the Mining, Logging and Construction sector and the Manufacturing sector), decreased by 1,300 workers (1.9%) from 2019 to 2020. Service Providing industries (all other sectors listed in the table above) had a loss of 13,900 workers (3.7%).

Mining, Logging and Construction

Mining, Logging and Construction increased 600 workers (2.4%) for a 2020 annual average of 25,200. Construction paved the way to this increase, adding 600 workers and reaching an annual average of 24,200 workers in 2020. Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction accounted for the majority of the growth in construction with the addition of 500 workers (12.5%). Highway construction, land developers, natural gas pipeline construction, land drainage contractors, pole line construction and sewer construction are a few of examples of establishments included in Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction.

Specialty Trade Contractors had a modest growth of 100 workers (0.7%), and Construction of Buildings remained unchanged at 5,800 workers. Gains in Construction can be related to increases in remodeling projects as consumers focused on home improvement as more time was spent at home. This included the building of or repurposing of space for home offices and updating outdoor spaces for greater enjoyment of time spent at home.

Mining and Logging remained unchanged from 2019 to 2020 with 1,000 workers.


Manufacturing declined 1,800 workers (4.0%) over the year, dropping to a 2020 annual average of 43,200 workers. Durable Goods Manufacturing accounted for all of this decline (6.3%). Durable goods produced in South Dakota, such as trailers, furniture and electronic equipment, are not immediately consumed and can be kept for a longer time. This drop was related to small worker level declines throughout many establishments, along with challenges intensified by COVID-19 (such as supply chain issues and demand fluctuations).

Non-Durable Goods Manufacturing remained unchanged with a 2020 annual average of 16,300 workers. Non-durable goods are immediately consumed in one use or have a lifespan of less than three years. Examples of non-durable goods produced or processed in South Dakota include food and beverage products, paper products and fuel.

Wholesale Trade

Wholesale Trade had a modest loss of 100 workers (0.5%), dropping to a 2020 annual average of 21,000 workers. Losses in Wholesale Trade took place outside of the Sioux Falls and Rapid City MSAs. The Wholesale Trade sector consists of establishments engaged in wholesaling merchandise and rendering services incidental to merchandise. The merchandise in this sector consists of the outputs of agriculture, mining, manufacturing and certain information industries like publishing. Wholesale Trade worker levels tend to follow the same path as Manufacturing; however, South Dakota’s strong agriculture economy helped keep this sector’s loss minimal during 2020.

Retail Trade

Retail Trade continued a downward trend during 2020, dropping 1,600 workers (3.1%). This sector went from 51,200 workers in 2019 to a 2020 annual average of 49,600 workers. Clothing boutiques, web retailers, home furnishing stores, department stores, hardware stores, supermarkets, gasoline stations, antique shops and souvenir stores are examples of some of the establishments in this sector.

Losses in Retail Trade were related to COVID-19 as establishments adjusted their procedures to fight the spread. In the beginning of the pandemic, some establishments temporarily closed with others shortening shopping hours. While some establishments in Retail Trade remained busy as people searched for basic needs (toilet paper, hand sanitizer and food), others had to adjust their services to deal with demand fluctuations. Many establishments offered various options for pickup and delivery to ease customers’ COVID concerns, increased their online presence, added phone apps for customers to shop safely, and increased use of social media to keep customers engaged.

Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities

Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities had a decline of 200 workers (1.5%) over the year, dropping to a 2020 annual average of 13,300 workers. Examples of establishments in this industry include tow truck services, natural gas distribution, taxicab services, local and long-distance trucking, scheduled air passenger transportation and general warehousing. Declines in Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities are attributed to COVID-19. As some establishments remained stable, other areas, such as air transportation and transit and ground passenger transportation, had drops in demand, affecting the number of workers needed.


Information continued a downward trend with an average annual loss of 500 workers (9.1%) from 2019 to 2020. The Sioux Falls and Rapid City MSAs each had a loss of 100 workers. The Information sector is comprised of establishments engaged in publishing, internet publishing, motion picture and sound recording, broadcasting, telecommunications, internet service providers, data processing and all other information services.

Losses in the Information sector are due to advancements in technology combined with challenges caused by the current pandemic. Some establishment in this sector temporarily closed when the pandemic began, with some dealing with a decline in demand. Consumers now have more opportunities to stream new entertainment releases once available only at movie theaters. The opportunities are endless when it comes to what you can do with your phone, computer, tablet or smart TV. Pandemic-induced sheltering at home further intensified use of such options for remote entertainment. As technology continues to evolve, the demand for workers in this sector will continue to fluctuate.

Financial Activities

Financial Activities had a loss of 600 workers (2.1%) over the year. This supersector went from a 2019 annual average of 29,000 to a 2020 annual average of 28,400 workers. Over half of the workers in the Financial Activities supersector are located in the Sioux Falls MSA (15,400 workers). This supersector had a loss of 300 workers in the Sioux Falls MSA and 200 workers in the Rapid City MSA.

Credit card banks, saving institutions, portfolio fund managing, insurance claims adjusting, real estate agencies, residential property management and home health equipment rental are examples of establishments in this supersector. During 2020, many establishments in this industry made significant changes in how they operate due to COVID-19. These changes include switching from in-person appointments to online meetings, temporarily closing lobby areas to the public and the increased utilization of electronic signatures, all which impacted the demand for workers.

Professional and Business Services

Professional and Business Services decreased 500 workers (1.5%), dropping to a 2020 annual average of 32,700 workers. A bulk of this decline took place in the Sioux Falls MSA (500 workers or 3.2%). The Professional and Business Services supersector is broken down into the following sectors: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services; Management of Companies and Enterprises; and Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services. As travel decreased and events were canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, the demand for services in establishments involved in areas such as travel planning, sports ticket offices, security guard services and temporary help services decreased.

Education and Health Services

Education and Health Services had a modest decline with the loss of 100 workers (0.1%). Worker level losses in Educational Services accounted for this decline, dropping 400 workers (5.7%). This number includes private educational services, as public educational services are included in government worker levels.

Health Care and Social Assistance added 300 workers (0.5%), reaching an annual average of 66,500 workers in 2020. Establishments in Health Care and Social Assistance include dentist offices, chiropractors, childcare centers, assisted living facilities and vocational rehabilitation agencies. Hospitals had significant gains from 2019 to 2020, adding 1,100 workers (4.3%). Increases may be related to establishments increasing worker levels due to increased safety procedures (such as temperature checks and even more extensive cleaning and disinfecting) to combat the spread of COVID.

Leisure and Hospitality

Leisure and Hospitality had the largest decrease of all supersectors in 2020 with a loss of 6,700 workers (14.1%). Establishments included in this supersector include performing arts, fitness centers, museums, parks, hotels and restaurants. COVID-19 has significantly affected establishments in Leisure and Hospitality, with patronage of such businesses down drastically among both local residents and visitors from outside the area due to health concerns. Establishments increased cleaning efforts and made changes to promote social distancing, including spacing out tables and chairs. Losses in this supersector can be attributed to a decline of visitors, as many visitors have reduced their travel (both leisure and business) due to COVID-19. According to the South Dakota Department of Tourism, 12.6 million visitors traveled to South Dakota in 2020 compared to 14.5 million visitors 2019.

Other Services (except Public Administration)

Other Services (except Public Administration) declined 200 workers (1.2%) over the year. This sector went from a 2019 annual average of 16,800 to a 2020 annual average of 16,600 workers. A majority of the losses in this sector are due to the current pandemic. Many establishments reduced their workforce to lower the impact, with some establishments temporary closing in the beginning of the pandemic. Examples of establishments in this sector include beauty salons, car washes, wedding planning services, civic and social organizations, general automotive repair shops and pet boarding services.


Government decreased 4.1% from 2019 to 2020 with the loss of 3,300 workers. Local Government declined 2,400 workers (4.8%). Tribal, city and county governments, along with public and tribal school districts, are included in Local Government. Local Government Educational Services decreased 1,100 workers (4.2%) over the year, and Local Government excluding Educational Services declined 1,300 workers (5.4%). Losses are related to COVID-19, as many city programs and services were put on hold to slow the impact.

State Government had a loss of 1,200 workers (6.5%), with State Government Educational Services accounting for the bulk of this decline. State Government Educational Services decreased 1,100 workers (11.7%). Worker level declines in State and Local Government Educational Services were due to schools adapting operations to lower the spread of COVID-19, which in turn impacted the demand for workers. Changes included moving from in-person classes to an online format, canceling sports and social activities, and closing on-campus facilities like recreation centers and food service.

Federal Government added 300 workers (2.7%).