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South Dakota “Strongest Economy” Leaves Kids in Lots of Counties in Poverty

Here’s another question Governor Kristi Noem would find “hostile“: How can the “strongest economy in America” have six of America’s fifteen counties with the highest rates of child poverty?

U.S. Counties With the Highest Child Poverty Rates

1. East Carroll Parish, Louisiana – 72.67%
2. Todd County, South Dakota – 65.71%
3. Dimmit County, Texas – 65.45%
4. Perry County, Alabama – 64.75%
5. Greene County, Alabama – 61.37%
6. Mellette County, South Dakota – 61.34%
7. Presidio County, Texas – 60.67%
8. Culberson County, Texas – 59.71%
9. Tunica County, Mississippi – 59.18%
10. Corson County, South Dakota – 58.18%
11. Jackson County, South Dakota – 57.54%
12. Ziebach County, South Dakota – 56.98%
13. Quitman County, Mississippi – 56.97%
14. Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota – 55.13%
15. Brooks County, Texas – 54.67%

[Steven Ross Johnson, “The 15 Counties Where Child Poverty Is Highest,” U.S. News and World Report, 2022.12.13]

You’d think the “strongest economy in America” would sweep everyone across the state up into higher income brackets. Lots of South Dakota counties have child poverty rates below the national average of 17.0% found by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017–2021 American Community Survey. But over a third of South Dakota counties exceed that average:

Craig Benson, "New 2017–2021 American Community Survey Data Show Child Poverty Declined but Remained Higher Than Overall Rate," U.S. Census Bureau, 2022.12.08.
Craig Benson, “New 2017–2021 American Community Survey Data Show Child Poverty Declined but Remained Higher Than Overall Rate,” U.S. Census Bureau, 2022.12.08.

The dark purple counties have 40% or more of their children in poverty. South Dakota has ten counties in purple. Minnesota doesn’t appear to have any counties with such high percentages of kids in poverty. Nor do Iowa, or Nebraska, or Wyoming, or Montana. North Dakota appears to have just two such counties.

What credit do we deserve for our purported economic strength if we don’t use it to keep children out of poverty?

Related Census Stats: The poverty rate for all Americans averaged 11.2% over 2019, 2020, and 2021. South Dakota’s average poverty rate over the same three years was 10.2%, below the national rate. But 25 states had even lower poverty rates, including five of our six neighboring states. Minnesota’s 7.0% poverty rate was the second-lowest in the nation, behind New Hampshire’s 5.6%.


  1. ABC 2022-12-21 07:35

    Scoreboard on getting rid of poverty in South Dakota— Republican Party 0, Democratic Party 0.

    Who’s left?

    We the people.

    We passed annual increase in minimum wage in 2014.

    We can do more!

    Every job should pay 50,000 plus.

    We can do it.

    Your choice— complain or build!

  2. larry kurtz 2022-12-21 07:44

    It’s a little surprising New Mexico doesn’t have a couple counties on that list but with a burgeoning surplus Governor Lujan Grisham is providing relief to school lunch programs, is lowering college costs and increasing environmental mitigation while South Dakota’s Republican governor insists on wars against kids, the Earth and against Natives.

  3. P. Aitch 2022-12-21 08:42

    What are you doing with all the money we liberal states send you, every year?
    Your gaps in diversity and standard of living are why a strong Federal government is vital to America.
    You obviously don’t apply American principles of fairness and equity with any proper degree of propriety!

  4. O 2022-12-21 08:45

    The two biggest steps that actually demonstrated progress in the right direction were the child tax credit that the national-level Republicans forced to lapse and free school lunches for all children. Both programs went a long way to help ease the burden of child poverty. Both were cut by Republicans “too worried about the cost.” It is especially disheartening that these both lapsed while Democrats hold the majority in both the House and Senate (although not filibuster proof) and hold the White House.

  5. e platypus onion 2022-12-21 11:47

    Noem is only replicating what other magats have done for years. Noem is a wannabe leader leading from the rear. In a crowded field of doofi, she stands head and shoulders above the sounder.

  6. Mark Anderson 2022-12-21 16:58

    Poverty and Red States go together like sex and STI’s. Healthcare and sex ed would help, you’d better check with Ian to see what they do at Hillsdale or what they recommend. Crossed legs and beating off I suppose. Abortion is not an option in So Dak sooo, it’s kids in poverty for you boys and girls, since you also want to ban any other terminology, it’s simple.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-12-21 18:19

    ABC, from a policy perspective, can we do more to permanently alleviate poverty by setting higher minimum wages or by implementing a more robust social safety net?

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-12-21 18:21

    O, I’d have liked to see the Dems press their advantage this month, remove the filibuster, and pass all those good policies.

  9. O 2022-12-21 19:40

    There may also be an argument here for re-evaluating the sociopathic metrics we use to measure the “goodness” of an economy to better align to the GOODness of an economy. Metrics that skew success toward the interests of corporations and the 1% ought to be secondary to metrics diagnosing poverty or homelessness or other indicators of the general wellbeing of the average wage earner.

  10. grudznick 2022-12-21 20:46

    You don’t eliminate poverty by putting out more welfare, Mr. H. That exacerbates poverty, because they sit on their haunches and grow dependent on the handouts. We have created a generation of slackards who won’t work hard to get more money. They want more money for free and not doing anything. Covid laziness has infested our workplaces and turned every generation who lived through the free lunches and government handouts into dependent slovenly minions of dependency.

  11. Arlo Blundt 2022-12-21 22:42

    And so, Grudznick, we are left with cold, hungry, ragged and poorly educated children, with few role models in the home and little or no opportunity in their communities. You know as well as I do, that there were many children like this whose lives were changed when an adult decided to “give them a break”, employed them, gave them opportunities and guided them into competitive employment. When I was a young man those adults existed and were evident in our town. I would submit, our problem is there are not enough of those adults around anymore. Don’t sit and complain…get out there and give a kid a break…it won’t bankrupt you and you might meet some wonderful examples of this next generation.

  12. P. Aitch 2022-12-21 22:51

    Once again, grudznichts, someone somewhere convinced you of a lie and you cling to that lie and never doubt your conviction to that lie. That’s the way of many old, white, stubborn fools. Welfare has proven over and over to help eliminate poverty both among those who receive help and among the children of those who’ve received help. But it matters so very little that you don’t know the truth because, after all, you’re only an old, white, stubborn fool and before long no one will ever think of your foolishness again.

  13. bearcreekbat 2022-12-22 00:45

    P.Aitch is correct. in stating:

    Welfare has proven over and over to help eliminate poverty both among those who receive help and among the children of those who’ve received help.


    Contrary statement made without supporting evidence simply reflect the speaker’s own prejudices and ignorance. A recent piece from the Atlantic describes some of the publicly available research identifying actual facts that confirm P.Aitch’s statement.

    “Welfare makes people lazy.” The notion is buried so deep within mainstream political thought that it can often be stated without evidence. . . .

    Many economists have for decades argued that this orthodoxy is simply wrong—that wisely designed anti-poverty programs, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, actually increase labor participation. And now, across the world, a fleet of studies are converging on the consensus that even radical welfare programs—including basic-income programs and what are called conditional cash transfers—don’t make people any less productive.

    Most notably, a 2015 meta-study of cash programs in poor countries found “no systematic evidence that cash transfer programs discourage work” in seven different countries: Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, the Philippines, Indonesia, or Morocco. Other studies of cash-grant experiments in Uganda and Nigeria have found that such programs can increase working hours and earnings, particularly when the beneficiaries are required to attend classes that teach specific trades or general business skills. . . .

    . . . [A] core mission of the Republican Party is to reduce government aid to the poor, on the assumption that it makes them lazy. This attitude is supported by many conservative economists, who argue that government benefits implicitly reward poverty and thus encourage families to remain poor—the idea being that some adults might reject certain jobs or longer work hours because doing so would eliminate their eligibility for programs like Medicaid.

    But this concern has little basis in reality. One of the latest studies on the subject found that Medicaid has “little if any” impact on employment or work hours. In research based in Canada and the U.S., the economist Ioana Marinescu at the University of Pennsylvania has found that even when basic-income programs do reduce working hours, adults don’t typically stay home to, say, play video games; instead, they often use the extra cash to go back to school or hold out for a more desirable job.

    But the standard conservative critique of Medicaid and other welfare programs is wrong on another plane entirely. It fails to account for the conclusion of the Prospera research: Anti-poverty programs can work wonders for their youngest beneficiaries. It’s true north of the border, as well. American adults whose families had access to prenatal coverage under Medicaid have lower rates of obesity, higher rates of high-school graduation, and higher incomes as adults than those from similar households in states without Medicaid, according to a 2015 paper from the economists Sarah Miller and Laura R. Wherry. Another paper found that children covered by Medicaid expansions went on to earn higher wages and require less welfare assistance as adults.

    . . . Welfare is so much more than a substitute for a paycheck. It is a remedy for the myriad burdens of childhood poverty, which give children the opportunity to become exactly the sort of healthy and striving adults celebrated by both political parties.

  14. All Mammal 2022-12-22 00:45

    How can you not feel proud of our young people, Mr. G? American kids will always, always know how to work hard, like their fathers and mothers and grandfolks before them. Americans come from good stock.
    Our bulbous-headed youngsters possess so much talent and potential. You’d get along famously with a rascal of incels, or other disgruntled subgroup of young adults, Mr. G.

  15. P. Aitch 2022-12-22 04:42

    grudznichts feels powerful when he holds others down. It’s a low self esteem thing common among many older, angry, white males. aka OAWM’s.

  16. ABC 2022-12-22 05:28

    Cory, actually both. Higher wages plus bigger Scandanavian social safety net.

    Dems and reps are doing neither in Lagislature.

    Some can be done with ballot questions.

    ALL can be done with us. We the people. 2024 is a long time to wait. I prefer Now,

  17. O 2022-12-22 11:18

    Just under the wire, grudznick posts the most foolish MAGA 1% nonsense of the year: “You don’t eliminate poverty by putting out more welfare.” That is the thinking that has stopped us from solving homelessness by giving the homeless housing, the jobless jobs, the hungry food, and the poor money. Sorry grudz, but the ONLY way t fix a hole is to fill it.

    The part that terrifies grudznick and his MAGA 1% ilk is that the money has to come from somewhere to make things right, and those bloating at the top will have to answer for their stolen excesses.

  18. Matthew k 2022-12-22 12:25

    Meade co laid down to kristy and the gfp. They moved the section line in the middle of the shooting range. Immediately after the ruling cammack , robbing , Kanta and one other were seen in the meeting outside. Want to bet there coming back to the legislature for the 2.5 million they got told no on 5 times. Well that probably would buy very many meals for kids anyway. Let’s go ahead and have a 10 million dollar play pen for skull and noam

  19. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-12-22 16:08

    I’m certainly not the wisest person here, and when I do post, it pertains to my experiences, observations, and memories.
    I recall Bob Newland advising us not to respond to Grudz because it only encourages it to pretend it is human.

  20. Bob Newland 2022-12-22 17:41

    Bonnie B. What if it turns out you are the smartest person here? I, for one, believe you are in the running.

  21. Jake 2022-12-23 11:46

    Tell me, grudz, that what you say happens due to receiving welfare (your post above) doesn’t and hasn’t happened to the upper 5 % of income also only worse so? They were given extremely generous tax cuts due to your GOP friends from Reagan on thru Trump because they were the “Job Creators” of society. Am I right? Yet, they sit on their stateside and overseas bank accounts and portfolios while lamenting that someone in the bottom class might be getting a hand from the mostly middle class taxes paid. When buddies of yours like trump are favored, overlooked and curried by the IRS (whose funds are cut by the GOP) and millions if not more taxes aren’t paid into the Treasury. See Letters to an American (Heather Cox Richardson 12/23/22).
    Trump’s taxes were not even audited when they were legally supposed to be by law until Democrats asked for action 2 years into his administration..
    So grudz, in your opinion, what kind of “welfare” is the worst? The kind that gives needy people some food etc. or someone of trump’s ilk that abuses the whole country with authoritarian impulses laced with racism and anti-Jew isms?

  22. Jake 2022-12-23 11:52

    The GOP also known as the “GRINCH OWNED PARTY” !!!

  23. grudznick 2022-12-23 11:56

    A blogging comment worthy of the many yule goats it got.

    Mr. Jake, you’re not paying attention if you think grudznick is a fan of Mr. Trump. His “welfare” is equally as bad.

    Eat and Drink, be a glutton today.
    Happy Festivus, to all!

  24. Jake 2022-12-23 12:04

    matthew k- there’s a $100 bill flag flying above the GFP, Cammack, Scull and others backing this un-needed gun range in Meade Co, and you are so right that they are going to try to get the money from the state for it again this year! (when there’s money to be made these types always come out into the open.. Along with using the National Guard Engineering unit from Rapid City to do the dirt moving and concrete work. All this so gun nuts and ammo worshipers can go bang bang at targets 1000 yards away as the gun and ammo manufacturers and NRA smile all the way to the bank.

  25. Jake 2022-12-23 12:07

    g-you seem to be a fan of his similar conservative stalwart companions! (You’ll have to get up a hell-of-a lot sooner than you do to get this goat, buddy)

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