Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

Font Size: A A A

Labor Market Information Center

Overview of the Current Labor Market

The analysis below is based on the most current labor market data available at any point in time.

Labor Supply

The number of South Dakotans who would be available to staff a new or expanding business, or South Dakota's labor supply, was estimated at 45,485 in March 2021. Included in this labor supply are those who currently hold jobs (and would like to change) and those who, for a variety of reasons, do not have jobs.

South Dakota Labor Supply
March 2021

Labor Force

This data is seasonally adjusted.

Preliminary estimates show South Dakota's unemployment rate decreased 0.1% to 2.9% in March 2021. The labor force decreased over the month by 3,000 workers (0.6%) to 469,200 workers. The level of unemployed decreased by 500 (3.5%) to 13,600 persons unemployed.

South Dakota's March 2021 labor force of 469,200 increased compared to the March 2020 level of 462,800. The level of employed increased by 6,400 (1.4%); the level of unemployed increased by 100 persons (0.7%). The unemployment rate remained unchange at 2.9%.

South Dakota Unemployment Rates by County
Not seasonally adjusted
March 2021

Notes about labor force data

The unemployment rate represents the number of unemployed as a percent of the labor force. People are classified as unemployed if they do not have jobs, have actively looked for work in the prior four weeks and are currently available for work. People who were not working and were waiting to be recalled to jobs from which they were temporarily laid off are also included as unemployed.

Labor force estimates for South Dakota are produced by the Labor Market Information Center in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The concepts and definitions underlying the labor force data come from the Current Population Survey (CPS), the household survey which is the official measure of the labor force for the nation. The statewide estimate of the number of nonfarm jobs is a component of the model used to produce the labor force estimates. Other data used in this model include the number of continued unemployment insurance claims and survey data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) which is specific to the state.

Although state specific data is used in the production of the labor force estimates for South Dakota, the state monthly model estimates are controlled in "real time" to sum to national monthly labor force estimates from the CPS. Therefore, variation in the estimates of the employed and unemployed are somewhat controlled by what is happening nationally.

South Dakota Nonfarm Wage & Salaried Workers by Industry

This data is not seasonally adjusted.

Over-the-month comparisons

Based on a monthly survey of South Dakota establishments, preliminary estimates show the total nonfarm wage and salaried worker level increased by 3,400 (0.8%) from February 2021 to March 2021. Over the last 10 years, worker levels have had an average increase of 2,400 workers from February to March.

Construction had the largest over-the-month growth with the addition of 900 workers (4.2%). Specialty Trade Contractors led the way, adding 600 workers (4.8%). Specialty Trade Contractors perform a specific activity, such as site preparation, pouring concrete, plumbing, painting or doing electrical work. Construction of Buildings added 200 workers (3.5%), reaching 5,900 workers in March 2021. Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction added 100 workers (3.0%) over the month. Construction growth is typical this time of year, as many establishments ramp up worker levels as the temperatures rise.

Leisure and Hospitality gained 700 workers (1.8%) over the month, climbing to 39,100 workers in March 2021. A majority of the growth in Leisure and Hospitality took place in the Sioux Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Gains are common this time of year as many seasonal establishments begin growing their workforce to prepare for the rise of visitors in the summer.

Education and Health Services had an increase of 500 workers (0.7%), reaching 74,900 workers in March 2021. Heath Care and Social Assistance accounted for a majority of this increase with the addition of 400 workers (0.6%) over the month. Family physicians’ offices, chiropractors, hospitals, nursing homes, vocational rehabilitation agencies and day care centers are examples of establishments in Health Care and Social Assistance. Hospitals added 100 workers (0.4%). Educational Services increased 100 workers (1.3%). This data includes private educational services; public educational services are included in government worker levels.

Over-the-year comparisons

The total nonfarm wage and salaried worker level decreased by 4,800 workers (1.1%) from March 2020 to March 2021. The bulk of the over-the-year worker losses are due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Leisure and Hospitality dropped 3,800 workers (8.9%) over the year. Museums, arcades, zoos, casinos, fitness centers, hotels and restaurants are examples of establishments included in this supersector. Losses in this supersector can be attributed to a decline of visitors, with people suspending both leisure and business travel due to COVID-19. This affects the demand for workers at leisure and hospitality businesses.

Manufacturing fell 900 workers (2.0%), dropping to 43,300 workers in March 2021. Durable Goods Manufacturing accounted for this loss, dropping 1,200 workers (4.3%). Since August 2019, Durable Goods has consistently had over-the-year losses. Durable Goods, such as trailers, furniture and electronic equipment, are not immediately consumed and can be kept for a longer time. Losses in Durable Goods are due to small drops in worker levels throughout many establishments in South Dakota. Non-Durable Goods Manufacturing increased 300 workers (1.8%). Non-Durable Goods, such as fuel, paper products, food and beverage products, are immediately consumed in one use or have a lifespan of less than three years.

Information decreased 600 workers (11.1%), dropping to 4,800 workers in March 2021. Newspaper publishers, radio stations, cinemas, book publishers, software publishers, sound recording studios, television broadcasting stations and wireless internet service providers are examples of establishments included in this sector. Declines in this sector are related to advancements in technology combined with challenges caused by COVID-19. Consumers now have increased opportunities to stream new releases at home and have turned to using electronics for information in place of traditional print, all affecting the demand for workers.

Government decreased 1,400 workers (1.7%) over the year. State Government had a loss of 800 workers (4.3%), with State Government Educational Services declining 900 workers (9.1%). Local Government had an over-the-year loss of 500 workers (1.0%). Local Government Educational Services accounted for the decline in Local Government with a loss of 800 workers (2.9%). State and Local Government Educational Services have consistently had over-the-year losses since April 2020 due to ongoing changes made to combat COVID-19. Changes have included the cancelation of sports and social activities, shifting from in-person to online classes and the closure of on-campus facilities (like recreation centers), all which affect the demand for workers. Federal Government had a loss of 100 workers (0.9%), dropping to 11,300 workers in March 2021.

Construction gained 1,300 workers (6.1%), climbing to 22,500 workers in March 2021. Construction of Buildings added 600 workers (11.3%) over the year. Specialty Trade Contractors gained 400 workers (3.1%). Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction also had over-the-year growth, adding 300 workers (9.7%). Gains in Construction may be related to the current housing boom and increases in remodeling projects as consumers focus on home improvement projects as more time is spent at home.

Over the year, Retail Trade increased 1,200 workers (2.4%). This sector went from 50,100 workers in March 2020 to 51,300 workers in March 2021. The Rapid City MSA added 700 workers (8.0%) in Retail Trade, and the Sioux Falls MSA added 200 workers (1.1%). Car dealers, home furnishing stores, hardware stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, gasoline stations, clothing stores, antique shops, vending machine operators and web retailers are examples of some of the establishments in this sector. Growth in Retail Trade can be tied to stores increasing their worker levels to keep up with an increase in demand with online purchases, and delivery and curbside pickup options.