Press "Enter" to skip to content

South Dakota Minimum Wage Rises to $9.30 in 2020

The Department of Labor announced yesterday that South Dakota’s minimum wage will increase twenty cents in 2020, from $9.10 an hour to $9.30. Tipped workers get half that raise, from $4.55 an hour to $4.65.

Don’t forget, minimum-wage earners: that raise comes to you every year courtesy of the voters, who enacted this annual inflation indexing by initiative in 2014 and protected it for young workers by referendum in 2016.

Here’s a quick chart of the increases we’ve made to the minimum price for labor in our fair state:

Year Minimum Wage % increase (2016 on: Consumer Price Index, rounded up to nearest nickel)
2014 $7.25
2015 $8.50 17.2%
2016 $8.55 0.6%
2017 $8.65 1.2%
2018 $8.85 2.3%
2019 $9.10 2.8%
2020 $9.30 2.2%

The next time you ballot question petitioners and wonder what good they’ve ever done for South Dakota, well, there you go!

By my calculations, since the $1.25 increase we enacted on January 1, 2015, we have raised the minimum wage an average of 1.8% each year for the last five years. Apply that rate annually and indefinitely, and we’ll reach Senator Bernie Sanders’s proposed $15 per hour in 2044. There’s my retirement income when I’m bagging groceries at Ken’s Super Fair Foods….

Of course, as waitpeople can attest, not everyone gets at least minimum wage in South Dakota. South Dakota law, like federal law, still discriminates against developmentally disabled workers. South Dakota also exempts from the minimum wage apprenticesbabysitters, outside salespeople, and employees at seasonal bumper-car palaces, other amusement/recreation facilities, organized camps, and religious or non-profit educational conference centers. We also continue to allow employers to pay teen workers the federal training wage of $4.25 an hour for 90 days after they are hired.

21 states pay the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which hasn’t increased since 2010. Seventeen states offer a higher minimum wage than South Dakota’s current $9.10; the highest minima are in Washington, California, and Massachusetts, which say every worker’s time, attention, and obedience are worth at least $12 per hour. One Forbes writer adjusts each state’s minimum wage for the cost of living (as calculated by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis) and finds that South Dakota’s minimum wage has the eleventh-highest buying power in the nation. $9.10 here buys $10.32 worth of stuff at Kessler’s, while Minnesota’s current minimum of $9.86 buys $10.11 worth of groceries at Cub Foods.


  1. happy camper 2019-10-11

    Cept it ain’t no good just as dumb as California trying to control rents. Hey lets complain about the cost of food and dictate how high the grocery store can increase prices. How would a restaurateur like the government telling him what he can charge no different. Bad laws!!! Bad laws!!!

  2. Nick Nemec 2019-10-11

    Indexing the minimum wage to inflation is the best idea passed into SD law in recent years.

    Gee, I wonder why number car palaces and other seasonal amusement or recreational facilities are exempt?

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-11

    No, Hap, food prices and labor prices are different. An apple, a chicken dinner, any consumer good—all objects, none with rights of their own. A worker is a human being, who to labor for you must sacrifice certain rights. The state has no interest in protecting the rights of apples. It does have an interest in protecting the rights and equal dignity of workers.

  4. happy camper 2019-10-11

    Having a job is a privilege granted by the employer not an obligation to the employee. If they don’t like the set of circumstances they can work for themselves or start their own company. These regulations are counterproductive. They create dependence, eliminate low-end jobs, increase automation, and speed up the competitive forces. That’s when you’ll jump right back in to say mo money, mo money, they need mo money as you push em right out of a job. I ain’t even hirin no kids no more they ain’t worth it. They got no skills but now they all think they’re worth big bucks. They ain’t!!!

  5. MJK 2019-10-11

    It should be $15.00 an hour across the board. Companies (most) do not pay benefits because they hire under fulltime-40 hr week workers; so they can do casual labor and pay an hourly wage and nothing else. They will argue that they can’t afford higher minimum wages. However goods and services continue to rise for the consumer regardless. Companies lay off employees and increase the work-load on the remaining staff. Hours and territories are extended to cover the loss of additional labor. I realize it is harder for smaller businesses than the large corporates. But, people need to earn a living wage. I agree with Bernie.

  6. o 2019-10-11

    Labor needs to be valued. That seems the central principle I keep coming back to, whether it is directly valued through fair wages and provision of employee voice, or indirect from incentivizing employment (as opposed to incentivizing mechanization or off-shoring employment). Valuing labor is what got us out of the Great Depression and what allowed the US to build a thriving middle class that democratized our economy and our politics. Devaluing labor destroyed our cities, our families, and spiked our income inequality.

    Even the 1% want to hone in on these values as they label themselves “job creators.”

    A rising tide lifts all boats; so let’s focus on the tide: the real wages the labor forces works for.

  7. Donald Pay 2019-10-11

    A job is not a privilege, happy camper. A job is contracted between an employer and a worker. I, the worker, provide my effort to the employer for a contracted amount of time for a contracted amount of pay. Let’s consider that an employer could provide me the “privilege” of a job, and provide me $0.00 per hour. That would be considered slavery. Maybe that employer would provide me with $0.50 per hour for my 8 hours of effort. Now, according to happy camper, that $4.00 a day is a goddam privilege, and I ought be goddam happy to take that generous wage and that goddam privilege and kiss the hand that gave me such a wonderful starvation wage.

    I say off with your goddam head, but you’re lucky because society stepped in and saved your goddam head. We figured this out as a society a long time ago, happy camper. Partly it was so employers wouldn’t be offed with regularity. Partly is was government wouldn’t have to subsidize the workers happy camper wants to cheat. Did you learn the lessons of American history? Maybe you want to live in a world where there is no minimum wage or regulations. I suggest you find a third world country, and go live there.

    We emancipated the slaves and we set certain minimums that must be paid to a worker. Now the argument is about what is an adequate minimum wage. We can have that argument, but we ain’t going back to slavery, happy camper.

    Back when I was beginning to work, the minimum wage was set at a point that provided a livable wage. If you worked full time at minimum wage you might not be able to buy a home, but you could rent a decent apartment or small house and stock it with a nice color TV, a stereo, and a wife dozing in “the damp, tangled sheets after love on a hot afternoon,” as the song goes. I think young workers deserve at least what I had, and at today’s dollar value that comes to a minimum wage of nearly $15 per hour.

  8. Debbo 2019-10-11

    “apprentices, babysitters, outside salespeople, and employees at seasonal bumper-car palaces, other amusement/recreation facilities, organized camps, and religious or non-profit educational conference centers.”

    The list really doesn’t make any sense to me. Are they doing less work in those positions? That’s the only good reason to pay them less.

    Why are religious and non-profit educational conference centers included? What are those? A camp like the ELCA’s Outlaw Ranch in the Black Hills? It hosts groups year round, but why is it exempt?

    I don’t think there should be exemptions and that starting wage for youth should be at least $6.50, if it must exist.

    The USA ought to drop tipping entirely. The rest of the world gets along just fine without it. Just pay them the regular wage.

    Lastly, strictly enforce the laws against wage theft. It’s entirely too common. Anyone who’s ever been employed for an hourly or piece rate has almost certainly been cheated by the employer.

  9. Debbo 2019-10-12

    This post is about economics. If SD had more businesses that paid well, minimum wage would affect fewer SD workers. How to do that is the question.

    “As of last count, Minnesota had 17 on Fortune’s ranking of 500 largest companies. And all but one is located in the Twin Cities, just the 16th largest metro area in the country. By including Medtronic Plc. of Fridley, formally registered in Ireland and thus not on Fortune’s famous ranking, we get to 18 big headquarters.”

    How did Minnesota attract them and keep them? We didn’t.

    “Instead our region has more than its fair share of very big companies that got started here with next to nothing — in a northeast Minneapolis garage (Medtronic), a Roseau metalworking job shop (Polaris Industries) and a 1,200 square-foot stereo components store on Hamline Avenue in St. Paul (Best Buy Co.)

    “So, the real question is how our region came to have so many little companies that managed to survive adolescence and mature into really big ones.”

    (Note that one SD business that got big, Sanford, began by charging usurious rates and gouging customers. Sanford did not create something of value, manufacture a product to fill a need, etc.)

    So how can SD start and nurture small businesses into big ones?

    “[Myles] Shaver is a professor of corporate strategy at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

    “Shaver guessed that he thought off and on about it ’10 or 12 years’ before settling on an explanation he could look to confirm through research. We have more than our share of big companies here, he finally decided, because we have more than our share of people who know how to help companies grow.

    “When talking about the impact of skilled workers it’s easy to think about specialized jobs, like ‘food scientist’ at General Mills or ‘medical device engineer’ at Medtronic, but Shaver is talking about managers, and their skills for leading or directing people and processes.

    “He is not talking about CEOs, either, but down in an organization where products and services are developed and marketed, technology upgrades are planned and rolled out, workers are trained and so on.

    “In researching his 2018 book about the Twin Cities economic phenomenon, “Headquarters Economy: Managers, Mobility and Migration,” Shaver surveyed management employees at 23 big employers, including at what he called hidden headquarters, the big, locally based operations that have a parent company based out of state.

    “Among other things, he was looking for reasons why corporate managers chose to stay in the Twin Cities rather than explore job options elsewhere. He found that the quality of life here matters a lot.

    “Managers with kids in the house picked the Twin Cities as a good place to raise kids, ranking that ahead of the availability of good jobs. That was followed by good public schools, a strong and diverse local economy and a lot of outdoor recreation opportunities.” Strib paywall

    There it is SD. Education is huge for the workforce and schools for their children. Immigrants will diversify an economy faster than anything else.

    South Dakotans, throw the bums out of the state house! Start over and diversify the lege, welcome everyone with laws that reflect that. You’ve got what it takes to be a thriving state where you children want to stay and others want to come.

  10. Debbo 2019-10-12

    Maybe a minimum wage for farmers?

    ” South Dakota Farmer’s Union says producers all across the state are in the same boat.
    “South Dakota led the nation in the number of acres that were unplanted this year so extremely difficult weather conditions and now we’re faced with snow fall and immature corn and guys trying to get their beans out and it’s just been a complete disaster of a battle,” Luke Reindl with the South Dakota Farmers union says.”

    KELO News

Comments are closed.