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GDP, Productivity Statistics Show South Dakotans Don’t Work as Hard as New Yorkers

My Friday post on South Dakota’s non-unique work ethic got me thinking about how we might actually measure work ethic.

One measure of work is the wealth we produce, gross domestic product per capita. According to Wise Voter, the places where workers are producing the most wealth per person are mostly on the coasts, with a couple of notable inland exceptions… of which South Dakota is not one:, "Richest States in USA," retrieved 2023.05.01., “Richest States in USA,” retrieved 2023.05.01.

New Yorkers produce $96,502 in GDP per person (and that’s including babies and other folks who aren’t working). Minnesota ranks #15, producing $75,234 in GDP per person. South Dakota ranks #21—$70,148 GDP/person.

So by that metric, South Dakotans work 7% less than Minnesotans and 28% less than New Yorkers.

We could also look at labor productivity, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines as real output per labor hour. Again, the folks who can boast of producing the most work mainly on the coasts:

Jon Jones, "U.S. States with the Greatest Labor Productivity," Smartest Dollar, 2022.08.11
Jon Jones, “U.S. States with the Greatest Labor Productivity,” Smartest Dollar, 2022.08.11.

Nine of the top ten states for labor productivity are on the coasts; the only inland exception is Illinois. Jones doesn’t include Washington D.C., so New York is #1 here, with labor productivity of $117.86 per hour. Minnesota is #18 at $78.54. South Dakota is #33 at $70.46. So for each hour on the job, South Dakota workers produce 10% less value than Minnesota workers and 40% less value than New York workers.

It’s nice to tell stories about hard-working people we know, but from a statistical perspective—which captures the experience of millions of people—South Dakota workers produce less value than their counterparts in Minnesota and New York.


  1. DaveFN 2023-05-01

    GDP per capita by state is likely not so much a function of work ethic (yeah, I’m sick hearing us blather about it, too) as a function of accessibility to higher order means of production and proximity to markets. We can eek out only so much by reliance on agriculture and tourism, however much we brag about them.

  2. P. Aitch 2023-05-01

    @DaveFU – You don’t make sense. Common or otherwise. You should have gone to college. You’d probably have learned some humility and positivity instead of raining negativity wherever you go. Anyway, is everything OK with you? You don’t seem psychologically well.

  3. P. Aitch 2023-05-01

    Seems to me the main reason for the difference in per capita GDP between New Yorkers and South Dakotans is the difference in their economies. New York has a highly diversified economy with many industries such as finance, media, tourism, and technology, as well as being a major international trade hub. In contrast, South Dakota’s economy is more focused on agriculture and tourism. The industries in New York tend to have higher wages and produce more economic output per person, thus contributing to a higher per capita GDP. Wages in SD are kept artificially low by a “sweep problems under the carpet” leadership paradigm from a one party ruled government.

  4. Mark Anderson 2023-05-01

    It’s easy, both my kids live in Brooklyn. They easily work up to 80 hours a week, when they have to. They don’t drive to work either. You want to be healthy, wealthy and wise. There’s lots to do, move to New York. It’s a great place to visit, living there is great too.

  5. Jenny 2023-05-01

    Come on you slacker ‘right to work for low wage’ states, get a move on. Union states are kicking butt. When employees are treated well and paid better, as in union states, you have a happier workforce, thus more of an initiative to produce quality goods. SDs legislature certainly plays against its workforce all the time with last in the nation wages and hate bills towards its LGBTQ2 and taking away the freedom of women’s right to choose. The toxic stress of discrimination happening in SD can absolutely factor into employee morale and productivity.

  6. O 2023-05-01

    As a low tax (as well as low wage) state, we CHOOSE to limit our GDP: if we would CHOOSE to make money (GDP) from trusts and banking instead of just being the parking lot for others to make/retain their wealth, all this could change.

  7. P. Aitch 2023-05-01

    There’s big money being created and pocketed in SD. **see Cory’s post about unregulated trust fund management laundering bloody drug and weapons money.

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