Poorest Cities In South Dakota For 2021


We used science and data to determine which places in South Dakota are basically dead broke.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the poorest places in South Dakota.

South Dakota brings to mind images of Pierre, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you'll find in the good ole US of A.

However, like all states, South Dakota has certain places that are going on hard times. These places have an above average percent of people that are living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.

With all the talk about income inequality going on around the country, we thought it prudent to take a look at the places in each state that are struggling to make it even as the economy continues to improve. So we set our sites on bringing attention to the places in South Dakota that could use a helping hand.

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 38 places in South Dakota with more than 2,000 people.

Here are the ten poorest places in South Dakota for 2021:

  1. Sisseton
  2. Vermillion
  3. Lead
  4. Hot Springs
  5. Belle Fourche
  6. Rapid City
  7. Brookings
  8. Milbank
  9. Madison
  10. Huron

Again, this isn't a commentary on the people that live there or the vibrant culture and traditions of these places. Instead, it's just a look at the facts.

What's the poorst city in South Dakota? According to the facts, Sisseton is the poorest place in South Dakota for 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best places in South Dakota or the most dangerous.

For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the poorest states in America or the poorest cities in America.

For more South Dakota reading, check out:

The 10 Poorest Cities In South Dakota For 2021

1. Sisseton

Sisseton, SD

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,468
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Income: $38,679 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.1% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 20.7% (2nd highest)
More on Sisseton:  Data | Photos

Sisseton, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in South Dakota thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 2,468 people averages the lowest median household income in South Dakota and the 2nd highest poverty rate. At the very least, the cost of living ranks in the bottom 15% of place in the state, so things like housing are relatively affordable.

2. Vermillion

Vermillion, SD

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,753
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $40,874 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 28.7% (highest)
More on Vermillion:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in South Dakota is Vermillion.

The city ranks as having the highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 3rd highest in the Mount Rushmore State.

3. Lead

Lead, SD

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 2,985
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Median Income: $47,500 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (9th highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.8% (6th highest)
More on Lead:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Lead's median income ranks as the 12th lowest.

And that's a sign that there's a relatively substantial jump in the quality of the economy from second to third place on our list. The poverty rate is 16.778749159381302% and ranks near the bottom of places in the state.

But what makes up for the relatively low incomes of the city is its low cost of living. The income you do make here goes further than in most parts of the Mount Rushmore State.

4. Hot Springs

Hot Springs, SD

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,509
Rank Last Year: 28 (Up 24)
Median Income: $46,071 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.4% (11th highest)
Poverty Rate: 15.4% (12th highest)
More on Hot Springs:  Data | Photos

Hot Springs ranks as the fourth poorest place in South Dakota.

The town ranks as having the 6th lowest median household income and the 12th highest incidence of poverty in the state.

That being said, there's still a ton of cultural diversity in the city as it hosts many events throughout the year.

5. Belle Fourche

Belle Fourche, SD

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 5,616
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $46,463 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.2% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 11.2% (23rd highest)
More on Belle Fourche:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in South Dakota is Belle Fourche.

The city ranks as having the 9th lowest median income in the state. However, an extremely low cost of living prevents a good number of folks from living in poverty as the poverty rate only ranks as the 23rd highest in South Dakota.

Still not the best news for Belle Fourche.

6. Rapid City

Rapid City, SD

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 75,258
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Median Income: $52,351 (20th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.2% (10th highest)
More on Rapid City:  Data | Photos

Rapid City ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Mount Rushmore State.

It ranks as having the 10th highest incidence of poverty and the 4th highest unemployment rate.

7. Brookings

Brookings, SD

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 24,108
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Income: $53,863 (23rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.0% (5th highest)
More on Brookings:  Data | Photos

Brookings places as the seventh poorest city in South Dakota.

The city of over 24,108 ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

8. Milbank

Milbank, SD

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,166
Rank Last Year: 33 (Up 25)
Median Income: $42,383 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 8.9% (28th highest)
More on Milbank:  Data | Photos

Milbank ranks as the eighth poorest city in South Dakota.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 6th highest in the state.

9. Madison

Madison, SD

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,261
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 3)
Median Income: $55,096 (25th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.5% (4th highest)
More on Madison:  Data | Photos

Madison couldn't stay out of the top ten poorest places in South Dakota; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 25th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Madison ranks as having the 4th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in South Dakota.

10. Huron

Huron, SD

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 13,282
Rank Last Year: 14 (Up 4)
Median Income: $46,106 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 1.6% (30th highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.7% (3rd highest)
More on Huron:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in South Dakota is Huron.

The city of 13,282 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Mount Rushmore State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In South Dakota for 2021

The first thing that comes to most people's minds when they think about determining the poorest places is to simply the poverty rate. That is, the number of people living below a federally established level of income for a household of a certain size.

However, we don't think that one statistic wholly encompasses what it means to be one of the "poorest places". So we looked at this set of criteria from the newly released 2015-2019 American Community Survey:

  • Poverty Level
  • Median Household Income adjusted for the cost of living
  • Unemployment Rate

The "median household income adjusted for the cost of living" attempts to gauge how expensive it is to live in a place and how that impacts the quality of life. For example, a town might have fewer people living below the official poverty line, but the cost of living is so high they'd still feel poor.

The unemployment rate tries to capture the prospects for improvement in the city or town. If more people are employed, the brighter the future looks and vice versa.

After we collected the data for all 38 places with more than 2,000 people in South Dakota, we ranked each place from 1 to 38 for each of the criteria, with 1 being the poorest.

We then averaged all the rankings for a place into a "Poor Score" with the place having the lowest overall Poor Score, Sisseton, crowned the "Poorest Place In South Dakota For 2021". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In South Dakota For 2021

Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in South Dakota, we weren't sure what we'd encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in South Dakota.

When you look at the data, the cities and places mentioned above meet the criteria for being at the very bottom of the income ladder for everyone that lives there.

If you're curious enough, here are the richest cities in South Dakota, according to data:

    Richest: Summerset
    2nd Richest: Brandon
    3rd Richest: Dell Rapids

For more South Dakota reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In South Dakota

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Sisseton 2,468 20.7%
2 Vermillion 10,753 28.7%
3 Lead 2,985 16.8%
4 Hot Springs 3,509 15.4%
5 Belle Fourche 5,616 11.2%
6 Rapid City 75,258 16.2%
7 Brookings 24,108 18.0%
8 Milbank 3,166 8.9%
9 Madison 7,261 19.5%
10 Huron 13,282 19.7%
11 Flandreau 2,458 11.6%
12 Custer 2,282 14.2%
13 Mitchell 15,727 16.2%
14 Springfield 2,056 16.3%
15 Chamberlain 2,565 16.6%
16 North Sioux City 2,837 13.4%
17 Mobridge 3,385 11.3%
18 Spearfish 11,547 13.8%
19 Watertown 22,166 14.7%
20 Aberdeen 28,225 12.6%
21 Pierre 13,961 13.8%
22 Yankton 14,573 13.6%
23 Winner 2,826 15.6%
24 Redfield 2,583 9.7%
25 Box Elder 9,683 12.2%
26 Canton 3,447 9.3%
27 Lennox 2,505 9.5%
28 Sioux Falls 177,117 10.4%
29 Sturgis 6,796 7.7%
30 Beresford 2,291 5.2%
31 Elk Point 2,176 7.4%
32 Tea 5,397 2.6%
33 Harrisburg 6,087 5.7%
34 Fort Pierre 2,240 5.7%
35 Hartford 3,220 3.9%
36 Dell Rapids 3,660 3.4%
37 Brandon 9,934 2.6%
38 Summerset 2,477 2.0%

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