A South Dakota News Watch analysis shows the state has the third-lowest average wage for employed people in the country behind only Arkansas and Mississippi, and the lowest-paying jobs — in office support, food service and sales — dominate the state's workforce.
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2017 reviewed by News Watch, 21 percent of workers make less than $30,000 a year, 41 percent make $35,000 a year or less, and seven in 10 employed people in South Dakota makes less than $40,000 a year. The data also generally show that jobs that do not require a college degree or technical education tend to pay far less than those that require a deeper skill set, yet those lower-paying jobs are far more plentiful in the state.
New Gov. Kristi Noem, acknowledging the need for wage improvement, has advocated for creation of new apprenticeship programs and job-skills training in the state's K-12 education system.
South Dakota News Watch reporter Bart Pfankuch analyzes workforce data and talks with economists and others on the state of our economy dominated by low-wage jobs.