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South Dakota Labor Productivity Shows Mediocre Growth in 2021 and over Past 15 Years

South Dakotans produced 2.0% more goods and services per hour worked in 2021 than they did in 2020. That’s 21st-highest in the U.S., but alas, we dragged down productivity for the Midwest, which as a region saw 2.2% annual growth in labor productivity:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Productivity by State—2021," 2022.05.26, p. 1.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Productivity by State—2021,” 2022.05.26, p. 1.

Notice that vivid blue spot to our east: Minnesota was one of five states to post better than 3.0% annual growth in labor productivity.

Over the last 15 years, we’ve been following Kristi Noem’s example and slacking off. The Midwest had the lowest labor productivity growth of the four regions in the BLS geography, only 1.1% from 2007 through 2021, compared to 1.2% down South, 1.4% back Northeast, and 2.1% out West. South Dakota matched the regional rate of 1.1% growth, falling behind Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, and Bakken-booming North Dakota. We also made less improvement in our productivity than all those supposedly lazy liberals in New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon, and California.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Productivity by State—2021," 2022.05.26, p. 4.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Productivity by State—2021,” 2022.05.26, p. 4.

South Dakota’s average annual percent gain in labor productivity over the last 15 years was only 28th largest in the nation. Hmm… looks like we need to spend less time jetsetting and watching horse races and more time catching up with our neighbors in getting things done on the job.


  1. All Mammal 2022-09-27 12:28

    SD is the big, mean doughheads of our region. Always wearing a football helmet and pooping in the pool and stuff. To say we have special needs would insult my friends who add way too much productivity to a state with a slow person in charge and a degenerate leadership, in general. Not for much longer. Yay

  2. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-27 13:46

    South Dakota is far behind in technology based jobs where productivity increases with the application of new methods to manipulate data. We’re a cow and pigs economy with not much room for innovation, only centralization. We are still the South Dakota your Great Grandparents would recognize.

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