Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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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 49,985 in August 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
August 2021

Map showing estimated labor supply for South Dakota counties. The same data is available in table format at

Labor Force

This data is seasonally adjusted.

Preliminary estimates show South Dakota's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 2.9% in August 2021. The labor force increased over the month by 600 workers (0.1%) to 471,300 workers. The level of unemployed increased by 100 (0.7%) to 13,600 persons unemployed.

South Dakota's August 2021 labor force of 471,300 increased compared to the August 2020 level of 453,600. The level of employed increased by 25,500 (5.9%); the level of unemployed decreased by 7,800 persons (36.4%). The unemployment rate decreased 1.8% to 2.9%.

South Dakota Unemployment Rates by County
Not seasonally adjusted
August 2021

Map showing unemployment rates by county in South Dakota. The same data is available in table format at

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 decreased by 1,000 (0.2%) from July 2021 to August 2021.

Government gained 1,400 workers (1.9%), reaching 76,500 workers in August 2021. State Government had a gain of 800 workers (5.0%) with State Government Educational Services adding 800 workers (12.1%). Local Government increased 600 workers (1.3%). Local Government Educational Services accounted for the growth in Local Government, adding 600 workers (2.9%). Gains in State and Local Government Educational Services are related to the new school year beginning for many schools. Federal Government remained unchanged over the month with 11,500 workers.

Leisure and Hospitality added 400 workers (0.8%) in August 2021. Historically, worker levels peak in the month of August as tourists travel throughout the state to enjoy outdoor activities before the weather turns cold. County fairs, the state fair and the Sturgis motorcycle rally are just a few examples of August events that took place, contributing to this increase.

Other Services (except Public Administration) had a loss of 900 workers (4.9%) over the month, dropping to 17,500 workers. Worker losses took place primarily outside the Sioux Falls and Rapid City Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA). Declines in this sector were due to small drops in worker levels throughout many establishments in South Dakota. Beauty salons, car washes, small engine repair, funeral homes, wedding planning services, nannies and business associations are examples of some of the establishments in this sector.

Retail Trade declined 500 workers (0.9%), dropping to 52,400 in August 2021. Declines in worker levels are related to a drop in part-time workers as many high school and college students transition from work back to school.

Over-the-year comparisons

The total nonfarm wage and salaried worker level increased by 13,400 workers (3.1%) from August 2020 to August 2021. Gains were scattered throughout many industries and are related to levels bouncing back after taking a significant dip when the pandemic first impacted the state.

Leisure and Hospitality added 4,000 workers (8.6%) over the year, reaching 50,700 workers in August 2021. Worker levels in the Leisure and Hospitality supersector took a substantial hit in 2020 due to the decline in demand as many stayed home and postponed travel plans to lower the impact of COVID-19. Since the initial worker level drop, visitor travel has continually picked up, increasing the demand for workers.

Manufacturing gained 1,900 workers (4.5%), climbing to 44,500 workers. Durable Goods and Non-Durable Goods both contributed to this growth, adding 600 workers (2.3%) and 1,300 workers (8.1%), respectively. Durable Goods include items such as trailers, furniture and electronic equipment. Non-Durable Goods include food and beverage products, paper products and fuel. Over-the-year growth is due to establishments rebuilding their workforces after worker levels dipped in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Retail Trade increased 1,700 workers (3.4%) over the year. The Rapid City MSA added 500 workers, and the Sioux Falls MSA added 400 workers over the year. Over-the-year growth in Retail Trade is due to worker levels rebounding after previously dipping significantly in the beginning of the pandemic.

Government worker levels increased 3,500 (4.8%) over the year. Local Government had the largest growth within Government, adding 3,800 workers (8.5%) over the year. Local Government Educational Services added 600 workers (2.9%). State Government rose 300 workers (1.8%). State Government Educational Services accounted for the growth in State Government with the addition of 300 workers (4.2%). Over-the-year growth is related to establishments being open that were closed in August 2020 due to the pandemic. This includes schools returning to in-class learning after providing remote learning in spring 2020 and the return of summer recreation programs. Federal Government declined 600 workers (5.0%), dropping to 11,500 workers in August 2021.