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South Dakota Offers Third-Cheapest Rent; Wages Dampen Affordability

Speaking of affordable housing, the National Low Income Housing Coalition finds that South Dakota has the third most affordable rent in the country. Defining “affordable” as “spending no more than 30% of their income on housing costs,” NLIHC figures that the “housing wage” to make a typical two-bedroom home “affordable” in South Dakota is $14.12 an hour. Better rental deals are found only in Kentucky and Arkansas.

NLIHC, "Out of Reach 2017", p. 13
NLIHC, “Out of Reach 2017”, p. 13

By NLIHC’s formula, a South Dakotan working full-time at minimum wage needs to put in 51 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom flat:

NLIHC, "Out of Reach 2017," p. 17
NLIHC, “Out of Reach 2017,” p. 17

Thank us Democrats for boosting that low-end affordability by raising the minimum wage to $8.65 an hour; if we were still stuck at the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour, a minimum wage worker in South Dakota would have to work 61 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom place.

Head up the payscale, though, and South Dakota doesn’t stand out as well for affordable rental housing. NLIHC finds that the average wage among South Dakota renters is $11.49, 81.4% of the affordable housing wage. That’s only the 21st-best ratio of average renter wage to affordable housing wage in the nation. No state reached 100%, but North Dakota was the best, with the average renter making 98.2% of the affordable housing wage. Minnesota’s ratio was 76.8%, 36th in the nation.


  1. Roger Elgersma 2017-06-26 12:14

    When I visited my daughter in Houston, TX three to eight years ago their rents were about the same as Sioux Falls. Surprised me then and now this chart seems to think that they have it much worse than here. I do not know what their wages are but in an oil state they do not get listed as a low wage state whenever I looked. They also require about one third as much for an up front fee for damages or missed rent. They do require that your income is more than three times your rent so they know you can afford it before you move in.

  2. Jenny 2017-06-26 15:31

    Roger, I was always under the impression that Texas is a low wage state like SD.
    In MN if you’re educated in the right field you can make very good money here.

    In regards to MN rents, in Rochester they are very very similar to Sioux Falls. In Rochester, if you’re educated in any medical area, you can make very good money. An NP or PA will start at $100,000 at Mayo. Mayo understands that to in order get highly qualified employees, pay them well.

  3. grudznick 2017-06-26 18:45

    Well, Ms. Jenny may just have the answer.
    Let us all have a Mayo Clinic in our towns.

  4. Jenny 2017-06-26 20:29

    Actually grudz, I was wrong, NPs and PAs start out more at $115000/yr and remember in MN the property taxes are less and no tax on food. ;)
    Of course, it is more expensive to live in the Cities but I think we can all agree (I hope so anyway) that wages have not kept up with the cost of living if you have not had an education in a field that pays decently.

    Didn’t Sanford Health figure it out finally recently that in order to get quality healthcare workers you need to have competitive wages or healthcare workers will go elsewhere, and thus moved the wage ladder up?

  5. grudznick 2017-06-26 21:07

    What we really need to do is make it so everybody works equally hard and does equally their fair share of work. Then we can all have the same number of bananas and coconuts at the end of the day.

    Or, we let the slackards languish with fewer bananas and we let the harder workers relax with the spoils.

  6. CLCJM 2017-06-27 00:41


    I’ve worked my tail off starting at the age of 12! I couldn’t go to college straight out of high school because there wasn’t much help available especially to girls. So I did everything I could to make ends meet including working more than one job. I was lucky enough to get a state job, albeit a physically demanding one. At 40 I availed myself of a benefit of that employment, a discount on tuition at any state university and started classes. It took me years of making 90 mile round trips and much sacrifice to get my degree. I even persisted when my husband suddenly died of a heart attack. I now had to be a single parent, full time employee and even increased my class load because I felt it was more urgent to graduate.

    Sadly enough, after I graduated and despite getting many part time and temporary positions, working as many as four jobs simultaneously, in my field of choice, I couldn’t get hired in a full time position. That was in large part because of age and gender discrimination. So I went back to similar work to what I had done before, physically demanding work. I ended up getting injured twice because of unsafe working conditions and ended up on disability!

    So now I’m sure you would count me in the category of a slacker because I’m not able to work and would take away my Medicare and my supplement. Probably my Social Security as well. Because only people like Donald Trump, who’s never actually worked a day in his life, should get healthcare or a pension!

    I wasn’t aware that God had given up his throne and anointed you to judge everyone!

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