Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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South Dakota e-Labor Bulletin

February 2022

South Dakota Nonfarm Worker Trends in 2021

Please note: Unless otherwise noted, the following highlights are based on a comparison of annual average data for 2020 and 2021.

South Dakota’s nonfarm worker levels had strong gains in 2021 after having significant declines in 2020, largely showing recovery of losses sustained during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Total nonfarm employment increased 3.1% from 2020 to 2021 with the addition of 13,300 workers. The 2021 annual average number of workers was 439,500.

South Dakota Statewide
Nonfarm Wage & Salaried Workers by Industry (Not Seasonally Adjusted)
Industry 2020
2021 Annual Average Actual Change Percent Change
Total Nonfarm 426,200 439,500 13,300 3.1%
  Total Private 349,300 360,600 11,300 3.2%
  Goods Producing 68,600 70,000 1,400 2.0%
  Service Providing 357,700 369,500 11,800 3.3%
Mining, Logging & Construction 25,400 26,200 800 3.1%
Manufacturing 43,200 43,800 600 1.4%
Wholesale Trade 20,900 21,300 400 1.9%
Retail Trade 49,700 51,400 1,700 3.4%
Transportation, Warehousing & Utilities 13,400 13,800 400 3.0%
Information 5,100 5,000 -100 -2.0%
Financial Activities 28,300 28,200 -100 -0.4%
Professional & Business Services 32,800 34,300 1,500 4.6%
Education & Health Services 73,000 74,200 1,200 1.6%
Leisure & Hospitality 41,000 45,300 4,300 10.5%
Other Services (except Public Administration) 16,600 17,000 400 2.4%
Government 77,000 78,900 1,900 2.5%
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 increased 5,300 workers (3.4%) for a 2021 annual average of 161,500 workers. The Rapid City MSA also had growth from 2020 to 2021, adding 3,200 workers (4.8%).

The total nonfarm worker levels mentioned above can be divided into two major components: Goods Producing and Service Providing industries. Goods Producing industries (Mining, Logging and Construction sector and the Manufacturing sector), increased by 1,400 workers (2.0%) from 2020 to 2021. Service Providing industries (all other sectors listed in the table above) gained 11,800 workers (3.3%).

Mining, Logging and Construction gained 800 workers (3.1%) for a 2021 annual average of 26,200. A majority of the growth took place in the Sioux Falls MSA with an increase of 600 workers (6.3%). According to the City of Sioux Falls, the construction valuation totaled $1.1 billion in 2021, which is a significant increase of the 2020 total construction valuation of nearly $920 million. Construction added 700 workers (2.9%). Specialty Trade Contractors paved the way to this growth in Construction with an increase of 700 workers (5.0%). Specialty Trade Contractors perform a specific activity, such as site preparation, pouring concrete, plumbing, painting or doing electrical work. Construction of Buildings also had growth from 2020 to 2021, adding 300 workers (5.1%). Somewhat offsetting these gains was a loss of 200 (4.4%) in Heavy and Civil Engineering. Its 2021 annual average dropped to 4,300 workers. Gains in Construction have been driven by the increased demand for housing and new commercial projects that come with population increases. Mining and Logging added 100 workers (10.0%) from 2020 to 2021, reaching 1,100 workers.

Manufacturing gained 600 workers (1.4%) over the year, from 43,200 workers in 2020 to 43,800 workers in 2021. Durable goods added 300 workers (1.1%) over the year, climbing to an annual average of 27,300 workers in 2021. 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.
Non-Durable Goods Manufacturing gained 300 workers (1.9%) to reach a 2021 annual average of 16,500 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. Worker levels in Manufacturing dipped in 2020 due to demand fluctuations and supply chain issues triggered by the pandemic. Worker levels have since been on the road to recovery, recouping 97.3% of the 2019 average annual worker level of 45,000. Gains in Manufacturing are related to small recovery growth spread throughout multiple establishments.

Wholesale Trade increased 1.9% with the addition of 400 workers from 2020 to 2021. The Wholesale Trade sector consists of establishments engaged in wholesaling merchandise and rendering services incidental to merchandise. The wholesaling process is an intermediate step in product distribution. Wholesalers sell merchandise received from manufacturers to other establishments and normally operate from a warehouse or office. The growth of Wholesale Trade correlates with the growth of Manufacturing. The more product there is to sell, the greater need there is for wholesalers.

Retail Trade worker levels jumped up 3.4% with the addition of 1,700 in 2021. This sector went from 49,700 workers in 2020 to a 2021 annual average of 51,400 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. Worker levels in Retail Trade during 2021 not only recovered from the 2020 pandemic impacts but exceeded the 2019 annual average of 51,200. Many establishments that were temporarily closed or open with reduced hours due to COVID-19 in 2020 were able to remain open for consumers in 2021. The pandemic changed how consumers shop, encouraging many to support local establishments to combat issues with shipping and delivery. Looking for ways to remain afloat during the pandemic, many progressive retailers found opportunities to customize and expand their services, such as offering curb-side pick-up and delivery as well as pumping up social media marketing to target audiences. Larger retailers increased the number of time slots and parking spots available for at-store pickup. It appears such new practices not only helped many retailers survive the pandemic but grow. South Dakota’s Retail Trade in 2021 enjoyed the first year of worker level gains after four consecutive years of loss.

Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities gained 400 workers (3.0%) over the year. Most of the growth (75%) took place outside of the Sioux Falls and Rapid City MSAs. 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. Worker levels in Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities have recouped and exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Gains in Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities are attributed to increases in demand. Multiple industries played a role in this growth. As Manufacturing levels increase, so does the demand for transportation and warehousing needed to move the product to the retailer. Retail Trade has also played a part as a shift to online consumer purchasing continued and intensified during the pandemic. More online shopping has increased the need for couriers and messengers who deliver the packages.

Information continued a downward trend with an average annual loss of 100 workers (2.0%). Declines in this sector took place outside of the Sioux Falls and Rapid City MSAs. The Information sector is comprised of establishments engaged in publishing, internet publishing, motion picture and sound recording, broadcasting, movie theaters, internet service providers, data processing and all other information services. This modest loss is due to fluctuations in demand due to advancements in technology. While some establishments in this sector are growing, others are contracting. Newspapers, books and calendars are just a few examples of areas evolving from print to digital format. As the transition continues, worker levels in this sector will continue to fluctuate.

Financial Activities decreased 100 workers (0.4 percent) over the over the year with a 2021 annual average of 28,200 workers in South Dakota. Over half of the workers in the Financial Activities supersector are in the Sioux Falls MSA (15,200 workers). The Financial Activities supersector consists of the Finance and Insurance sector and the Real Estate and Rental and Leasing sector. 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. While the need for the activities in the supersector has increased due to population growth, the demand for workers had minimal changes from 2020 to 2021 due to advancements in technology. With continued advancements, consumers can complete many transactions without having to step foot inside an establishment. Although online options have been around for a while, the current pandemic encouraged more consumers toward these electronic options for transferring funds, depositing checks, applying for loans, submitting applications and signing documents.

Professional and Business Services had significant gains (1,500 workers, 4.6%) from 2020 to 2021, reaching a 2021 annual average of 34,300 workers. 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. Temporary staffing services, payroll processing services, consulting services, corporate offices primarily engaged in overseeing a company and security guard services are examples of establishments in this supersector. Worker levels have not only recouped but exceeded pre-pandemic levels. (Professional and Business Services had an annual average of 33,200 workers in 2019). This growth is good indication other industries are expanding to the point additional help from professional and business services is needed.

Education and Health Services gained 1,200 workers (1.6%), jumping up to a 2021 annual average of 74,200 workers. Most of this growth took place in the Sioux falls MSA and the Rapid City MSA, adding 700 workers and 400 workers, respectively. Health Care and Social Assistance accounted for most of the growth in Education and Health Services, adding 800 workers (1.2%). 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 2020 to 2021, adding 800 workers (3.0%). Health Care and Social Assistance has been on an upward trend for the last 20 years. Continued gains in Health Care and Social Assistance are related to several factors, including population growth and an increase of specialized medical procedures which increase the demand for additional staff. Educational Services increased 4.5% with the addition of 300 workers. This number includes private educational services, as public educational services are included in government worker levels. This growth is related to establishments in Educational Services rebuilding their workforce after dipping in 2020.

Leisure and Hospitality had the largest increase of all supersectors in 2021 with an addition of 4,300 workers (10.5%). Establishments included in this supersector include performing arts, fitness centers, museums, parks, hotels and restaurants. Worker levels in Leisure and Hospitality are on the road to recovery after taking a significant dip in 2020 due to the pandemic. While many people avoided typical socializing activities and postponed travel plans in 2020 because of COVID-19, 2021 brought on a return of such activities and travel. According to the South Dakota Department of Tourism, 13.5 million visitors traveled to South Dakota in 2021 compared to 10.7 million visitors 2020. As the number of visitors increase, the demand for workers in this supersector also increased.

Other Services (except Public Administration) increased 400 workers (2.4%) over the year, reaching a 2021 annual average of 17,000 workers. 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. Growth in this sector is population driven. As the population trends up, so does the demand for workers who provide this wide variety of services.

Government worker levels increased 1,900 (2.5%), reaching a 2021 annual average of 78,900 workers. Local Government accounted for most of the growth in Government, adding 1,800 workers (3.7%). Tribal, city and county governments, along with public and tribal school districts, are included in Local Government. Local Government Educational Services added 1,000 (4.0%), and Local Government excluding Educational Services gained 900 workers (3.9%). State Government added 300 workers (1.7%). State Government Educational Services worker levels rose 200 (2.4%). Over-the-year growth is related to establishments reopening in 2021 that were closed in 2020 due to COVID-19. This includes the return of summer recreation programs and schools returning to in-person education and activities after having to offer only remote learning in the spring of 2020. Federal Government declined 100 workers (0.9%), dropping to a 2021 annual average of 11,500.