These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In South Dakota For 2018


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

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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 36 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 2018:

  1. Sisseton (Photos)
  2. Vermillion (Photos)
  3. Flandreau (Photos)
  4. Hot Springs (Photos)
  5. Yankton (Photos)
  6. Rapid City (Photos)
  7. Mitchell (Photos)
  8. Lead (Photos)
  9. Madison (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, Sisseton is the poorest place in South Dakota for 2018.

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.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In South Dakota For 2018

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 2012-2016 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 36 places with more than 2,000 people in South Dakota, we ranked each place from 1 to 36 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 2018’.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 36 places.

1. Sisseton

Sisseton, South Dakota

Population: 2,682
Median Income: $35,954
Unemployment Rate: 11.1%
Poverty Rate: 26.0%
More on Sisseton: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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 2,682 people averages the 2nd 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, South Dakota

Population: 10,778
Median Income: $31,155
Unemployment Rate: 7.6%
Poverty Rate: 35.7%
More on Vermillion: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The second poorest city in South Dakota is Vermillion.

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

3. Flandreau

Flandreau, South Dakota

Source: Public domain

Population: 2,164
Median Income: $40,360
Unemployment Rate: 9.3%
Poverty Rate: 22.6%
More on Flandreau: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Placing as the third poorest city, Flandreau’s median income ranks as the 6th 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 22.6% 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.

4. Hot Springs

Hot Springs, South Dakota

Population: 3,570
Median Income: $39,073
Unemployment Rate: 3.5%
Poverty Rate: 18.7%
More on Hot Springs: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The town ranks as having the 5th lowest median household income and the 8th 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. Yankton

Yankton, South Dakota

Source: Public domain

Population: 14,585
Median Income: $41,174
Unemployment Rate: 3.6%
Poverty Rate: 17.4%
More on Yankton: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

The fifth poorest city in South Dakota is Yankton.

The city ranks as having the 7th 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 9th highest in South Dakota.

Still not the best news for Yankton.

6. Rapid City

Rapid City, South Dakota

Population: 72,441
Median Income: $47,300
Unemployment Rate: 5.3%
Poverty Rate: 16.4%
More on Rapid City: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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 6th highest unemployment rate.

User comment that mentions Rapid City: Johnny, no it’s not! There are no jobs & the schools are— Okay- My older brother & his family lived there for years & now his widow & son live there. The entire state of South Dakota sucks, frankly, {yes, I have lived here all of my miserable life} & in large part because of the ginormous geopolitical divides & also the massive income inequality. I live in Sioux ||Falls & grew up in the small town of Dell Rapids. Sort of. On a farm 8 miles east of Dell Rapids. The crime rate in Rapid City is also a huge problem & just the physical layout of the city is a nightmare for EMS! Hope that helps. Scenery is beautiful, tho!

Your comment could be here. Add a comment on a city or town.

7. Mitchell

Mitchell, South Dakota

Population: 15,610
Median Income: $43,983
Unemployment Rate: 4.8%
Poverty Rate: 13.1%
More on Mitchell: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Mitchell places as the seventh poorest city in South Dakota.

The city of over 15,610 ranks as having the 14th 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. Lead

Lead, South Dakota

Source: Public domain

Population: 3,050
Median Income: $41,735
Unemployment Rate: 5.1%
Poverty Rate: 11.6%
More on Lead: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

Lead ranks as the eighth poorest city in South Dakota.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 7th highest in the state.

9. Madison

Madison, South Dakota

Source: Public domain

Population: 7,101
Median Income: $47,579
Unemployment Rate: 4.1%
Poverty Rate: 18.9%
More on Madison: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

While the median income is the 19th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Madison ranks as having the 7th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in South Dakota.

10. Spearfish

Spearfish, South Dakota

Population: 11,176
Median Income: $44,330
Unemployment Rate: 3.6%
Poverty Rate: 15.2%
More on Spearfish: Add A Comment | Data | Jobs

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

The city of 11,176 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 2018

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: Beresford
3rd Richest: Tea

For more South Dakota reading , check out:

  • 10 Cheapest Places To Live In South Dakota
  • 10 Best Places To Live In South Dakota
  • 10 Most Dangerous Cities In South Dakota
  • Detailed List Of The Poorest Cities In South Dakota

    Rank City Poverty Rate
    1 Sisseton 26.0%
    2 Vermillion 35.7%
    3 Flandreau 22.6%
    4 Hot Springs 18.7%
    5 Yankton 17.4%
    6 Rapid City 16.4%
    7 Mitchell 13.1%
    8 Lead 11.6%
    9 Madison 18.9%
    10 Spearfish 15.2%
    11 Brookings 19.5%
    12 Huron 24.9%
    13 Winner 24.0%
    14 Box Elder 12.1%
    15 Mobridge 10.7%
    16 Redfield 13.4%
    17 Aberdeen 13.6%
    18 Chamberlain 12.0%
    19 Sturgis 12.4%
    20 Canton 10.3%
    21 North Sioux City 8.0%
    22 Sioux Falls 11.7%
    23 Watertown 11.3%
    24 Milbank 9.4%
    25 Belle Fourche 10.5%
    26 Summerset 6.1%
    27 Hartford 4.9%
    28 Dell Rapids 10.2%
    29 Pierre 10.1%
    30 Lennox 5.6%
    31 Elk Point 7.8%
    32 Brandon 6.1%
    33 Fort Pierre 7.1%
    34 Tea 5.6%
    35 Beresford 2.6%
    36 Harrisburg 7.2%

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