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 50,995 in December 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
December 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 0.5% to 3.0% in December 2020. The labor force remained unchanged with 461,300 workers. The level of unemployed decreased by 2,000 (12.5%) to 14,000 persons unemployed.

South Dakota's December 2020 labor force of 461,300 decreased compared to the December 2019 level of 465,800. The level of employed decreased by 2,600 (0.6%); the level of unemployed decreased by 1,800 persons (11.4%). The unemployment rate decreased 0.4% to 3.0%.

South Dakota Unemployment Rates by County
Not seasonally adjusted
December 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 decreased by 200 (0.0%) from November 2020 to December 2020. This is less than seasonally expected. Over the last 10 years, the worker level has had an average decrease of 900 from November to December.

Retail Trade had the largest over-the-month increase with a gain of 1,100 workers (2.2%). Department stores, home furnishing stores, clothing stores, hardware stores, household appliance stores and web retailers are examples of some of the establishments in this sector. Worker level gains are typical this time of year as retailers increase worker levels during the holiday season.

Construction had a loss of 900 workers (3.5%) over the month. Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction had the largest decline in Construction with a loss of 700 workers (16.7%). Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction includes establishments in highway concrete paving, land subdivision, gas main construction, underground cable laying and irrigation systems construction. Construction of Buildings and Specialty Trade Contractors also showed a loss on a smaller scale, dropping 100 workers (1.6%) and 100 workers (0.7%), respectively. Construction worker levels typically drop this time of year as the ground freezes, making underground and cement work difficult.

Government decreased 700 workers (0.9%), dropping to 78,300 workers in December 2020. State Government had a loss of 1,000 workers (5.5%) with State Government Educational Services dropping 1,100 workers (11.8%) over the month. Losses in State Government Educational Services may be related to state colleges moving final exams online after Thanksgiving break, reducing the number of people on campus to help lower the spread of COVID-19. Federal Government and Local Government increased over the month, adding 200 workers (1.7%) and 100 workers (0.2%), respectively.

Over-the-year comparisons

The total nonfarm wage and salaried worker level decreased by 12,100 workers (2.7%) from December 2019 to December 2020. The bulk of the over-the-year worker level losses are due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Leisure and Hospitality had an over-the-year loss of 6,900 workers (15.2%). Leisure and Hospitality has consistently had over-the-year losses each month since the pandemic hit South Dakota. Losses in this supersector can be attributed to a drop in visitors, as many have reduced both leisure and business travel plans due to COVID-19. Museums, arcades, zoos, casinos, fitness centers, hotels and restaurants are examples of establishments included in this supersector.

Education and Health Services decreased 2,100 workers (2.8%), dropping to 72,400 workers in December 2020. Health Care and Social Assistance had a loss of 1,800 workers (2.7%) over the year. Health Care and Social Assistance has consistently had over-the-year losses since April 2020. Establishments in Health Care and Social Assistance include dentist offices, chiropractors, childcare centers, assisted living facilities and vocational rehabilitation agencies. Hospitals had an over-the-year loss of 200 workers (0.8%). Educational Services had a loss of 300 workers (3.8%). This data includes private educational services; public educational services are included in government worker levels.

Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities declined 1,600 workers (11.0%). Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities went from an all-time high of 14,600 workers in December 2019 to 13,000 workers in December 2020. Worker level losses are related to the current pandemic. As consumers reduce travel plans, worker levels in establishments in areas such as air transportation, transit and ground passenger transportation, and support activities for transportation have declined.

Manufacturing decreased 900 workers (2.1%) over the year. Durable Goods Manufacturing accounted for a majority of this loss, dropping 800 workers (2.9%). Durable Goods has consistently had over-the-year losses each month since August 2019. Declines in worker levels are related to small worker level drops in many establishments throughout the last year. Durable goods are not immediately consumed and can be kept for a longer time. Non-Durable Goods Manufacturing had a modest loss of 100 workers (0.6%). Non-durable goods are immediately consumed in one use or have a lifespan of less than three years.

Construction had the largest over-the-year growth, adding 1,600 workers (6.9%). Specialty Trade Contractors increased 1,600 workers (11.8%), reaching 15,200 workers in December 2020. Specialty Trade Contractors perform a specific activity, such as site preparation, pouring concrete, plumbing, painting or doing electrical work. Construction of Buildings gained 300 workers (5.2%). Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction had a loss of 300 workers (7.9%) over the year. Gains in Construction may be related to increases in remodeling projects as consumers focus on home improvement projects as more time is spent at home.

Over the year, Government had a loss of 3,000 workers (3.7%). State Government decreased 1,900 workers (10.0%), with State Government Educational Services losing 1,900 workers (18.8%). Local Government declined 1,600 workers (3.1%) over the year. Local Government Educational Services had a loss of 600 workers (2.2%), dropping to 27,300 workers in December 2020. These staffing declines continue to reflect changes made in local and state schools to lower the spread of COVID-19. Changes include the shift from in-person to online classes, cancelation of sports and social activities, and the closure of on-campus facilities like recreation centers—all of which impact the demand for workers. Federal Government added 500 workers (4.5%), reaching 11,700 workers in December 2020.