Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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Labor Market Information Center

Pandemic Picture: Impacts on the Labor Market

The following is a summary of workforce data indicators beginning in January 2020 through the most current labor market data available at any point in time, to provide a picture of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted South Dakota's labor economy.


Labor Force

Updated monthly; last updated April 23, 2021.

Line graph of South Dakota monthly labor force, employment and unemployment levels in 2020, to illustrate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Seasonally adjusted employment increased by 6,400 between March 2020 and March 2021.
  • The number of unemployed in South Dakota is back to pre-pandemic levels with the March 2021 estimate of 13,550, which is only 50 higher than the March 2020 estimate of 13,500.

Read more analysis of labor force data since the pandemic began in South Dakota. Monthly labor force data can be found in the virtual labor market data system using the link and instructions available from our Labor Force menu page.


Nonfarm Wage & Salaried Workers by Industry

Updated monthly; last updated April 23, 2021.

Line graph of monthly statewide nonfarm wage and salaried worker levels in 2020, to show impact of COVID-19 pandemic
  • As South Dakota's pandemic recovery continues, the number of nonfarm wage and salaried workers had strong growth of 2,300 workers from February 2021 to March 2021.
  • Gains in worker levels are a result of strong rebounds in industries such as Leisure and Hospitality and Professional and Business Services.
  • Over the longer term since the pandemic first hit South Dakota, the greatest impact in nonfarm worker levels occurred from March to April 2020, with an unprecedented drop of 42,100 workers (9.6%).
  • The March 2021 estimates show South Dakota establishments have recouped about 98.8% of the worker levels they had in March 2020.

Read more analysis of nonfarm worker data since the pandemic began in South Dakota. Monthly nonfarm worker data can be found in the virtual labor market data system using the link and instructions available from our Nonfarm Workers menu page.


Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages

Updated quarterly; last updated April 2, 2021.


  • While employment levels started out strong in early 2020 before the pandemic hit South Dakota, employers reported nearly 34,000 fewer workers in April than for March. Employment levels have since recovered and exceeded March levels, reaching a 2020 monthly employment high of 425,289 in October.
  • While the employment level in October was the highest in 2020, it was not nearly as high as historically typical. In 2019, October employment was 433,213, compared to the October 2020 level of 425,289. December behavior was similar. In 2019, December employment was 430,723, whereas in 2020 employment reached 423,579.
  • COVID-19’s impact on the total number of establishments reporting employment and wages was not nearly as severe overall as on employment levels. The reported number of establishments reached a historical high of 35,491 in the fourth quarter of 2020. There was a similar gain in establishments from third to fourth quarter in 2019. In 2020, the total number of establishments increased 0.9% between the two quarters, whereas 2019 saw a .8% increase.

South Dakota Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages
2020
Month Employment
January 2020 420,694
February 2020 421,268
March 2020 420,863
April 2020 387,234
May 2020 402,494
June 2020 415,888
July 2020 418,691
August 2020 422,782
September 2020 422,456
October 2020* 425,289
November 2020* 422,153
December 2020* 423,296
Actual Change
from March 2020 to Most Current Data
2,433
Percent Change
from March 2020 to Most Current Data
0.6%
*Preliminary data; subject to revision.
Source: Labor Market Information Center, SD Department of Labor and Regulation in cooperation with U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

South Dakota Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages
2020
Month Number of Establishments Average
Employment
Average
Weekly
Wages
First Quarter 2020
(January through March)
34,642 420,942 $901
Second Quarter 2020(April through June) 34,659 401,872 $912
Third Quarter 2020
(July through September)
35,161 421,310 $918
Fourth Quarter 2020*
(October through December)
35,491 423,579 $1,051
Actual Change from First Quarter 2020 to Fourth Quarter 2020* 849 2,637 $150
Percent Change from First Quarter 2020 to Fourth Quarter 2020* 2.5% 0.6% 16.6%
*Preliminary data; subject to revision.
Source: Labor Market Information Center, SD Department of Labor and Regulation in cooperation with U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Learn more about the QCEW program and the availability of data since the pandemic began.