These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In South Dakota For 2019


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 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the poorest places in South Dakota.

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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.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Mount Rushmore State for 2019:

  1. Vermillion (Photos)
  2. Sisseton (Photos)
  3. Flandreau (Photos)
  4. Lead (Photos)
  5. Yankton (Photos)
  6. Madison (Photos)
  7. Mitchell (Photos)
  8. Belle Fourche (Photos)
  9. Brookings (Photos)
  10. Spearfish (Photos)

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.

And according to the facts, Vermillion is the poorest place in South Dakota for 2019.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest 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:

How We Determined The Poorest Places In South Dakota for 2019

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 2013-2017 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, Vermillion, crowned the “Poorest Place In South Dakota For 2019”.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 38 places.

Vermillion, SD

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 10,687
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Income: $34,972 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 32.0% (1st highest)
More on Vermillion:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 10,687 people averages the 1st lowest median household income in South Dakota and the 1st 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.

Sisseton, SD

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,548
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $38,500 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 22.8% (3rd highest)
More on Sisseton:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in South Dakota is Sisseton.

The city ranks as having the 3rd highest incidence of poverty and 3rd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 1st highest in the Mount Rushmore State.

Flandreau, SD

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,440
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $43,990 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 20.6% (5th highest)
More on Flandreau:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Flandreau’s median income ranks as the 10th 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 20.6% 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.

Lead, SD

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 3,021
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 4)
Median Income: $43,730 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 13.4% (14th highest)
More on Lead:  Data | Photos

Lead ranks as the fourth poorest place in South Dakota.

The town ranks as having the 9th lowest median household income and the 14th 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.

Yankton, SD

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 14,529
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Income: $41,727 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.0% (20th highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.9% (8th highest)
More on Yankton:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in South Dakota is Yankton.

The city ranks as having the 5th 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 8th highest in South Dakota.

Still not the best news for Yankton.

Madison, SD

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,094
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Median Income: $50,439 (23rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 22.7% (4th highest)
More on Madison:  Data | Photos

Madison ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Mount Rushmore State.

It ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty and the 6th highest unemployment rate.

Mitchell, SD

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 15,566
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Income: $45,264 (12th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.8% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 13.9% (12th highest)
More on Mitchell:  Data | Photos

Mitchell places as the seventh poorest city in South Dakota.

The city of over 15,566 ranks as having the 12th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Belle Fourche, SD

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 5,622
Rank Last Year: 24 (Up 17)
Median Income: $41,145 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (13th highest)
Poverty Rate: 12.8% (17th highest)
More on Belle Fourche:  Data | Photos

Belle Fourche ranks as the eighth poorest city in South Dakota.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 13th highest in the state.

Brookings, SD

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 23,471
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Income: $47,506 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (15th highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.5% (7th highest)
More on Brookings:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 13th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Brookings ranks as having the 7th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in South Dakota.

Spearfish, SD

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 11,300
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Income: $43,692 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.0% (20th highest)
Poverty Rate: 15.6% (10th highest)
More on Spearfish:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 11,300 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Mount Rushmore State.

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In South Dakota For 2019

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: Harrisburg
    2nd Richest: Hartford
    3rd Richest: Beresford

For more South Dakota reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In South Dakota

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Vermillion 10,687 32.0%
2 Sisseton 2,548 22.8%
3 Flandreau 2,440 20.6%
4 Lead 3,021 13.4%
5 Yankton 14,529 16.9%
6 Madison 7,094 22.7%
7 Mitchell 15,566 13.9%
8 Belle Fourche 5,622 12.8%
9 Brookings 23,471 19.5%
10 Spearfish 11,300 15.6%
11 Mobridge 3,420 10.1%
12 Rapid City 72,841 16.3%
13 Huron 13,116 28.6%
14 Custer 2,124 10.6%
15 Box Elder 9,277 14.5%
16 Aberdeen 27,925 13.7%
17 Hot Springs 3,519 12.4%
18 Watertown 22,083 13.0%
19 Redfield 2,623 10.4%
20 North Sioux City 2,693 8.5%
21 Sturgis 6,715 11.9%
22 Milbank 3,178 9.3%
23 Winner 2,854 19.8%
24 Chamberlain 2,653 11.0%
25 Sioux Falls 170,401 11.1%
26 Canton 3,352 8.9%
27 Pierre 13,974 12.9%
28 Summerset 2,285 5.0%
29 Lennox 2,190 6.0%
30 Elk Point 2,231 7.6%
31 Volga 2,127 3.7%
32 Brandon 9,731 5.1%
33 Tea 4,866 2.9%
34 Dell Rapids 3,683 6.7%
35 Fort Pierre 2,276 5.0%
36 Beresford 2,212 4.5%
37 Hartford 3,043 4.2%
38 Harrisburg 5,429 4.1%

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