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Sioux Empire Fairgrounds Study Income Data Show South Dakota Economy Not Strongest in Nation

The economic analysis of the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds prepared by Minneapolis consultancy CSL International and Tennessee fairgrounds architect Charles D. Smith includes a couple more statistical nuggets to add to the pile of data showing that Governor Kristi Noem’s claim that South Dakota’s economy is the strongest in the nation is false.

CSL and Smith produce demographic details for the Sioux Empire Fair’s market area as well as Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County, South Dakota, and the United States.

CSL International and Charles D. Smith, "Analysis of a Potential Renovated/Expanded W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds in Sioux Falls, South Dakota," presented to Minnehaha County Commission 2022.12.12, p. 10.
CSL International and Charles D. Smith, “Analysis of a Potential Renovated/Expanded W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds in Sioux Falls, South Dakota,” presented to Minnehaha County Commission 2022.12.12, p. 10; annotated by CAH/DFP. Click to embiggen!

One would expect the strongest state in the country to have the strongest income in the country. But South Dakota’s household income is 11.3% below the national level, and South Dakota’s per capita income is 13.1% below the national level. (South Dakota’s cost of living was only 3.9% lower than the national level in Q3 2022.) Households in Sioux Falls make 4.3% more than the South Dakota average, and per capita income in Sioux Falls beats the state average by 11.8%, but neither figure is enough to put our most metropolitan corner above the national income averages. So even South Dakota’s most diverse, opportunity-filled local economy is not stronger than the national economy.

Those weaker income figures show themselves in income distribution. 37.08% of South Dakotans make less than $50,000 a year. 34.37% of Americans are in that bottom income bracket. South Dakota does have a notably higher percentage of people making $50,000 to $74,999 than the national average and faintly higher percentage pulling in $75,000 to $149,999. But the chances of breaking $150K in South Dakota are far lower than nationwide, 12.30% here versus 18.31% everywhere.

The failure of so many people to hit the highest income bracket isn’t for lack of trying. A far higher percentage of South Dakota residents are working: 54% versus the national rate of 45%. In Sioux Falls, 64% of residents are working. I would expect the strongest economy in the country to provide more opportunities for more workers to hit theb entrepreneurial jackpot. But in South Dakota, those additional participants in the workforce apparently pile up at the lower end of the income spectrum.

We are at least growing in population: South Dakota got 11.02% more people from 2010 to 2021, compared with national growth of 8.73%. Sioux Falls accounted for much of that state growth (more than half) with a 29.48% gain in population. But population growth is slowing everywhere: the study projects national population growth of 1.25% from now to 2027, South Dakota growth of 2.68%, and Sioux Falls growth of 5.98%.

Unlike Governor Noem, the consultants putting this study together weren’t seeking national attention or political gain; they were just trying to provide an objective picture of the prospects for investing in improvements to the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds. Their objective data show that South Dakota’s economy is not the strongest in the nation.

One Comment

  1. Jake 2022-12-14 10:44

    Objectivity damned sure counts, Cory, but we know from past experience that to expect the GOP powered state of SD not to have much more than their own lust for remaining in power (by catering to those with the deepest $$$ pockets that get them elected) as an objective is a certainty. Lies, subterfuge and smoke/mirrors enable them to continually ‘hoodwink’ the voters.

    And, of course, those people she has encouraged to come to SD from Washington always w]seem to fall into that $100,000 plus income bracket…. Former mouthpiece Fury for example. She DOES need someone to speak for her tho, as she is so often on the state plane going to “fundraisers” with big Lew.

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