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South Dakota $9.95 Minimum Wage Will Be 25th Best in US, 19th Best When Adjusted for Cost of Living

South Dakota’s minimum wage rises fifty cents tomorrow, from $9.45 to $9.95 an hour. Happy New Year, and, once again, workers, thank Democrats!

But even with this hike, South Dakota’s minimum wage will still be lower than in 24 other American jurisdictions that have put their minimum wage above $10 an hour. We are second-best in our adjoining-state region, just 3.8% behind Minnesota’s $10.33 an hour. But Colorado says an hour of your labor is worth at least $12.56. Arizona will give you $12.80; New Jersey, $13.00; Connecticut, $14.00; California, $15.00. The best minimum wage in the country is available in Washington, D.C., where shining a Congressman’s shoes could get you $15,20 an hour (and really good news tips, which I welcome here).

Alongside these minimum wages, Jacob Newton of KELO-TV pulls the trusty MERIC data on cost of living for 2021 Q3 and finds that South Dakota has the 29th-highest cost of living. Hmm…multiply 25th-best minimum wage by 29th-highest cost of living… we must rank 725th in something…

No, wait: factor the relative costs of living into those minimum wages, and it turns out that the purchasing power of South Dakota’s minimum wage is the 19th-highest in the nation… still behind Minnesota, Colorado, Arizona, New Jersey, and Connecticut, but not California!

State Minimum Wage
Cost of Living
(2021 Q3)
purchasing power of
minimum wage
(MW/COL × 100)
Illinois $12.00 90.5 $13.26
Washington $14.49 112.8 $12.85
New Mexico $11.50 90.6 $12.69
Missouri $11.15 91.2 $12.23
Arizona $12.80 107 $11.96
Arkansas $11.00 92.1 $11.94
Colorado $12.56 105.8 $11.87
Connecticut $14.00 119.5 $11.72
Maine $12.75 110.9 $11.50
Virginia $11.00 98.1 $11.21
New Jersey $13.00 118.3 $10.99
Vermont $12.55 114.8 $10.93
Florida $11.00 101.5 $10.84
Michigan $9.87 91.4 $10.80
Massachusetts $14.25 132.4 $10.76
Oregon $13.50 127.5 $10.59
Rhode Island $12.25 115.8 $10.58
Minnesota $10.33 99.6 $10.37
South Dakota $9.95 96.2 $10.34
Maryland $12.50 121.4 $10.30
California $15.00 146.9 $10.21
Ohio $9.30 92.9 $10.01
Delaware $10.50 106.6 $9.85
District of Columbia $15.20 154.4 $9.84
Nebraska $9.00 93.6 $9.62
West Virginia $8.75 93.9 $9.32
Nevada $9.50 103.3 $9.20
New York $13.20 143.7 $9.19
Montana $9.20 100.8 $9.13
Mississippi $7.25 85 $8.53
Kansas $7.25 86.9 $8.34
Alaska $10.34 125.7 $8.23
Oklahoma $7.25 88.2 $8.22
Alabama $7.25 88.6 $8.18
Georgia $7.25 89.8 $8.07
Tennessee $7.25 90 $8.06
Iowa $7.25 90.3 $8.03
Indiana $7.25 91.1 $7.96
Texas $7.25 92.6 $7.83
Louisiana $7.25 92.8 $7.81
Wyoming $7.25 93.6 $7.75
Kentucky $7.25 93.9 $7.72
South Carolina $7.25 94.8 $7.65
Wisconsin $7.25 95.5 $7.59
North Carolina $7.25 96.4 $7.52
Idaho $7.25 97 $7.47
North Dakota $7.25 97.8 $7.41
Pennsylvania $7.25 100.5 $7.21
Utah $7.25 101.5 $7.14
New Hampshire $7.25 112.6 $6.44
Hawaii $10.10 185.6 $5.44

19th-best minimum wage when adjusted for cost of living—that’s more than we might expect from an otherwise anti-worker state like South Dakota. But surely “the strongest economy in the nation” could afford to support the lowest-paid workers even more.


  1. larry kurtz 2021-12-31 14:40

    Let me just say that Democrats can live in New Mexico for a lot less, it gets above freezing in most counties every day of the year and Kristi Lynn Arnold Noem isn’t your governor.

  2. Mark Anderson 2021-12-31 16:33

    Well you’ve got me larry, DeSantis is hardly a draw. Were about 2 miles from the beach, should be beachfront property in a few years. That’s a plus.

  3. buckobear 2021-12-31 18:28

    Why does any young person want to stay in SD? Good education, lousy local prospects. The brain drain will continue.

  4. Porter Lansing 2021-12-31 18:57

    Has anyone read SD Governor’s weekly post entitled NEW YEAR – NO FEAR?
    How does she get away with lying like that?

  5. Donald Pay 2021-12-31 21:07

    Buckobear asks, “Why does any young person want to stay in SD?” It’s why any kid will stay in his or her hometown. It’s an easier path initially to stay with what you know. You have family and friends, and social outlets. Maybe you have a girlfriend or boyfriend. If you go to a SD college or tech institute you may have better job contacts in SD. Also, it depends on what you like to do. If you like to hunt or fish, why move elsewhere? Or hiking or mountain biking. Just go to the Hills area. SD had (has?) a great local music scene. I can see where people want to stay. I did, until I figured out I faced a pretty bleak retirement if I stayed.

  6. John Dale 2022-01-01 05:41

    Our economies are wasteful and inefficient closed undercapitalized and decadent.

    That is the root cause.

    Fix the root cause, and minimum wage mechanisms will be obviated.

  7. larry kurtz 2022-01-01 06:11

    Last year I called for a general strike to sink the Trump Organization. Now, the movement has morphed into what Anthony Klotz, an organizational psychologist at Texas A&M University, is calling The Great Resignation. It’s not about laziness, it’s about equity or Maria shrugged, if you will. Some believe it could last well into 2023. Those of you who can should flee South Dakota while you still can.

  8. larry kurtz 2022-01-01 08:03

    If you begin to imagine strikes up and down the West Coast—along with strikes in critical swing states, either for better contracts or to demand union recognition in the logistics and supply chain sectors—you can actually begin to see a path away from Trumpism winning in 2022 and then Donald Trump or a Trumper winning in 2024. The best union organizing has long focused on coordinating contracts so that they are set to expire at the same time across industries, employers, and geographical locations—what’s known as “contract lineup”—during big political election seasons. Why? Because the majority of workers sit up and pay attention to collective action when their contracts are going to expire. And given the cynicism most people rightly have toward electoral politics, it takes contract and strike mobilizations to engage in meaningful political education about which set of politicians is connected to which set of corporate leaders.

  9. grudznick 2022-01-01 08:13

    The fewer of you, the more South Dakota there is for grudznick.

  10. Bob Newland 2022-01-01 10:30

    While John Dale tosses out terminology like it is bedclothing that can be washed and sanitized, he is, more or less, correct (strangely and uncharacteristically). The strangest thing about it is that it appears to be 180 degrees from what he has been saying for four years.

  11. Arlo Blundt 2022-01-01 21:10

    Well, I agree with Donald, South Dakota can be a great place to work but a lousy place to earn a living. I worked in several states, able to market my expertise, but always had property and family interests in South Dakota. That will change in 2022 as my brother and I age out. I’ll live longer in warmer weather but wouldn’t mind being buried in the old sod.

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