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2021 Brings 15-Cent Raise in SD Minimum Wage; Still No Sign Raising Floor Increases Unemployment

Our wise vote to raise and index the minimum wage in 2014 will give our lowest-earning workers a little more coronavirus stimulus in 2021. According to the Department of Labor and Regulation and state law, the 1.4% increase in the Consumer Price Index over the past twelve months requires increasing South Dakota’s minimum wage on January 1 from $9.30 to $9.45 an hour. That fifteen-cent boost will raise the paycheck of a South Dakotan working full-time at a minimum wage job $300, from $18,600 to $18,900.

We raised the minimum wage via Initiated Measure 18 from $7.25 in 2014 to $8.50 on January 1, 2015. Annual employment data for the past decade (but not considering 2020 data yet, since this pandemic year is a wild outlier) shows that unemployment was already low in 2014—3.4%—but has been lower every year since. According to the last annual report from the Small Business Administration, the number of small businesses in South Dakota grew 1.9% in the year before the pandemic. We raised our minimum wage, unemploymen has gone down, and we have more small businesses.

At least week’s debate, Donald Trump said raising the minimum wage would crush small businesses. Joe Biden promised to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. South Dakota’s experience suggests the data on minimum wage increases lean more toward Biden’s promise than Trump’s unsupported assertions.


  1. Jenny 2020-10-28

    Thank you to the SD voters for voting this in and don’t ever let those mean republicans in Pierre take away your Initiative Referendum process. Power to the People!

  2. o 2020-10-28

    Jenny, you beg the question of how can an electorate both directly vote for progressive policies AND the representatives who prevent those policies. There is a SERIOUS cognitive dissonance in SD between who we vote for and what policies we want.

  3. Buckobear 2020-10-28

    All I can say is “WOW.” ……. a buck twenty a day !! we’re proud of this ??

  4. Nick Nemec 2020-10-28

    Buckobear, you take what you can get. Had we not first increased and indexed the minimum back in 2014 the minimum in SD would still be $7.25/hour, and the SD Legislature would annually refuse to increase the minimum.

  5. jerry 2020-10-28

    This is a big deal and one that we can all be proud of. Indeed, take what you can get. This is a good deal and not to be taken lightly.

  6. buckobear 2020-10-28

    Maybe the solution would be to pay our lege minimum wage.

  7. Debbo 2020-10-28

    It does seem awfully small, but is indeed a better-than-nothing raise that is solely due to the citizens.

    If Joe Biden is elected he plans to raise the federal minimum wage to $15, which is still lagging from what’s needed, but will significantly help. I hope his administration would be as smart as the writer of the SD law and index it to the COL.

  8. Jenny 2020-10-29

    America’s poverty class workers always get the crumbs. It may be baby steps but, unfortunately that is how it’s always been. One hundred years and counting on fighting for Univeral Healthcare for all.

  9. leslie 2020-11-03

    ELEVATE RC ushers in new business w/ promise of 150 some jobs at less than $15 hour, finding a property lease for them.

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