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 69,585 in May 2020. 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
May 2020

South Dakota county outline map of labor supply estimates

Labor Force

This data is seasonally adjusted.

Preliminary estimates show South Dakota's unemployment rate decreased 1.5 percent to 9.4 percent in May 2020. The labor force decreased over the month by 5,900 workers (1.3 percent) to 464,400 workers. The level of unemployed decreased by 7,500 (14.6 percent) to 43,800 persons unemployed.

South Dakota's May 2020 labor force of 464,400 increased compared to the May 2019 level of 462,900. The level of employed decreased by 27,200 (6.1 percent); the level of unemployed increased by 28,700 persons (190.1 percent). The unemployment rate increased 6.1 percent to 9.4 percent.

South Dakota Unemployment Rates by County
Not seasonally adjusted
May 2020

South Dakota county map of unemployment rates

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 12,600 (3.2 percent) from April 2020 to May 2020. Over the last 10 years, the worker level has had an average increase of 9,540 workers over the April to May time frame. The bulk of the over-the-month gains are from establishments reopening after temporarily closing due to COVID-19 and increasing their workforce with plans to resume business.

Leisure and Hospitality had the largest over-the-month growth with a gain of 8,000 workers (30.2 percent). Over the month, many establishments in Leisure and Hospitality began to increase worker levels, with some opening after being temporarily closed. Establishments have adjusted their services to include additional cleaning and moving or closing off seating areas to promote social distancing. Performing arts, museums, arcades, zoos, casinos, fitness centers, hotels and restaurants are examples of establishments included in this supersector.

Over the month, Construction worker levels jumped 10.0 percent (2,400 workers) to 26,500 workers. Specialty Trade Contractors accounted for half of this May growth with a gain of 1,200 workers (8.5 percent). Specialty Trade Contractors perform a specific activity, such as site preparation, pouring concrete, plumbing, painting or doing electrical work. Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction also showed strong gains with an increase of 800 workers (19.0 percent). Construction of Buildings added 400 workers (6.9 percent) to reach a level of 6,200 workers in May 2020. Historically, construction worker levels incline with the rising temperatures as establishments in the industry repair roads and work on new buildings.

Retail Trade increased 1,100 workers (2.4 percent) to 47,000 workers in May 2020. A majority of the gains in this sector took place outside the Sioux Falls and Rapid City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The over-the-month gain is due to establishments increasing their workforce with some establishments reopening after briefly closing due to COVID-19. Establishments in this sector include farm supply stores, garden centers, supermarkets, gift shops, web retailers, clothing stores and gasoline stations.

Education and Health Services gained 900 workers (1.3 percent). Health Care and Social Assistance accounted for this growth, adding 1,100 workers (1.8 percent) for a 63,300 worker level in May 2020. Establishments in Health Care and Social Assistance include dentist offices, chiropractors, childcare centers, assisted living facilities and vocational rehabilitation agencies. Increases in Health Care and Social Assistance are related to establishments increasing worker levels and reopening after temporarily closing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Hospitals remained steady over the month with 25,400 workers. Educational Services had a loss of 200 workers (3.0 percent). This data includes private educational services, as public educational services are included in government worker levels.

Government had the largest over-the-month drop with a loss of 1,600 workers (2.1 percent). Local Government decreased 1,200 workers (2.6 percent), with Local Government Educational Services dropping 2,400 workers (9.2 percent). State Government also had an over-the-month decline, dropping 400 workers (2.4 percent). State Government Educational Services had a loss of 700 workers (8.5 percent). As schools in Local Government Educational Services and State Government Educational Services transitioned to online learning, the demand for staff not directly involved in providing online instruction (food service and custodial workers, residential advisors, teacher assistants, bus drivers, etc.) declined. Some of the types of workers mentioned above disappear from state and local school payrolls during the summer months, with worker levels dropping accordingly from May to June. But due to the pandemic, worker declines happened sooner than normal. Federal Government was steady over the month with 11,400 workers in May 2020.

Over-the-year comparisons

The nonfarm wage and salaried worker level decreased by 35,000 workers (7.9 percent) from May 2019 to May 2020. A majority of the over-the-year worker level losses are due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Leisure and Hospitality had the largest over-the-year decline with a loss of 14,100 workers (29.0 percent). In May 2019, Leisure and Hospitality was preparing for the inflow of visitors as families transitioned from the end of the school year to summer break. This year, many establishments scaled back on hiring, with some temporarily closing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Visitors also traveled less in May, with events and celebrations like graduations having to be postponed, delaying vacations and other travel plans. The COVID-19 pandemic has played a huge role on the workforce decline in Leisure and Hospitality.

Government worker levels fell 8,400 (10.3 percent) over the year to 73,300 workers in May 2020. Local Government had the largest decrease within Government with the loss of 6,000 workers (11.7 percent). Local Government Educational Services had a loss of 3,700 worker (13.5 percent). State Government declined 2,400 workers (12.8 percent). State Government Educational Services dropped over the year with a loss of 2,300 workers (23.5 percent). Losses in Local and State Government Educational Services are a result of establishments in education switching to an online format in order to fight the spread of COVID-19, which lowered the demand for workers at physical locations. Federal Government remained unchanged over the year with 11,400 workers in May 2020.

Over the year, Retail Trade had a loss of 4,500 workers (8.7 percent). This sector went from 51,500 workers in May 2019 to 47,000 in May 2020. A majority of the losses in this sector took place in the Sioux Falls and Rapid City MSA. Losses in Retail Trade are related to COVID-19 as establishments attempted to help slow the spread by adjusting their hours, offering online shopping and/or curbside pickup or temporarily closing.

Education and Health Services worker levels fell by 3,800 workers (5.2 percent) to 69,700 workers in May 2020. Health Care and Social Assistance worker levels dropped 2,600 workers (3.9 percent). Hospitals had a modest decline with a loss of 100 workers (0.4 percent). Educational Services decreased 1,200 workers (15.8 percent). The bulk of the over-the-year losses in Education and Health Services are a result of establishments fighting the spread of COVID-19. Educational Services switched to remote learning, and establishments in Health Care and Social Assistance increased telehealth appointments, which lowered the demand of workers at physical locations.

Manufacturing had a 5.3 percent drop in worker levels with the loss of 2,400 workers. Manufacturing has been on a downward trend since October 2019. Durable goods accounted for the bulk of this drop with a loss of 1,800 workers (6.2 percent). The decline in Durable Goods can be tied to small drops in multiple establishments in the last year. Durable Goods, such as trailers, furniture and electronic equipment, are not immediately consumed and can be kept for a longer time. Non-Durable Goods decreased 600 workers (3.7 percent). Non-Durable Goods, such as fuel, paper products, and food and beverage products, are immediately consumed in one use or have a lifespan of less than three years.

Construction continued trending upward with the addition of 2,300 (9.5 percent) from May 2019 to May 2020. Over the year, Specialty Trade Contractors added 1,100 workers (7.7 percent). Heavy and Civil Engineering Contractors also had strong gains, adding 900 workers (22.0 percent). Construction of Buildings climbed 300 workers (5.1 percent) over the year. Over-the-year gains may be related to increases in population, which increases the need for housing and road improvements.