Poorest Cities In South Dakota For 2020


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 2020. This is our sixth 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.

Here are the ten poorest places in South Dakota for 2020:

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

What's the poorst city in South Dakota? According to the facts, Vermillion is the poorest place in South Dakota for 2020.

Rich people more 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:

The 10 Poorest Cities In South Dakota For 2020

Vermillion, SD

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 10,700
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $34,517 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 33.0% (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 10,700 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: 2,486
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Income: $38,167 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.8% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 21.3% (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 2nd 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: 2,438
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $46,020 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 15.7% (10th highest)
More on Flandreau:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Flandreau's median income ranks as the 9th 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 15.659574468085106% 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: 2,998
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Income: $48,229 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.0% (8th highest)
More on Lead:  Data | Photos

Lead ranks as the fourth poorest place in South Dakota.

The town ranks as having the 15th 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.

Belle Fourche, SD

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 5,610
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Income: $43,796 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 13.5% (15th highest)
More on Belle Fourche:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in South Dakota is Belle Fourche.

The city ranks as having the 6th 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 15th highest in South Dakota.

Still not the best news for Belle Fourche.

Madison, SD

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,203
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Income: $51,215 (22nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.6% (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 5th highest unemployment rate.

Mitchell, SD

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 15,722
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $43,788 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.6% (14th highest)
Poverty Rate: 14.3% (13th highest)
More on Mitchell:  Data | Photos

Mitchell places as the seventh poorest city in South Dakota.

The city of over 15,722 ranks as having the 13th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Brookings, SD

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 23,863
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Income: $50,182 (19th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (12th highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.0% (5th highest)
More on Brookings:  Data | Photos

Brookings ranks as the eighth poorest city in South Dakota.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 12th highest in the state.

Rapid City, SD

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 73,721
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 3)
Median Income: $50,742 (21st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.5% (9th highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.0% (9th highest)
More on Rapid City:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 21st lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Rapid City ranks as having the 9th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in South Dakota.

Winner, SD

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 2,839
Rank Last Year: 23 (Up 13)
Median Income: $50,513 (20th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (13th highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.0% (6th highest)
More on Winner:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 2,839 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 2020

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 2014-2018 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 2020". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In South Dakota For 2020

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: Brandon
    2nd Richest: Harrisburg
    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 Vermillion 10,700 33.0%
2 Sisseton 2,486 21.3%
3 Flandreau 2,438 15.7%
4 Lead 2,998 16.0%
5 Belle Fourche 5,610 13.5%
6 Madison 7,203 19.6%
7 Mitchell 15,722 14.3%
8 Brookings 23,863 19.0%
9 Rapid City 73,721 16.0%
10 Winner 2,839 19.0%
11 Yankton 14,577 15.2%
12 Mobridge 3,422 10.5%
13 Chamberlain 2,486 17.9%
14 Huron 13,291 21.6%
15 Aberdeen 28,124 14.8%
16 Custer 2,113 10.2%
17 Watertown 22,124 14.0%
18 Redfield 2,582 8.4%
19 Box Elder 9,407 11.8%
20 Springfield 2,045 11.6%
21 North Sioux City 2,781 8.1%
22 Canton 3,392 9.8%
23 Spearfish 11,393 12.8%
24 Sioux Falls 174,151 11.3%
25 Lennox 2,437 8.8%
26 Sturgis 6,772 8.9%
27 Pierre 13,988 13.1%
28 Hot Springs 3,515 10.4%
29 Elk Point 2,168 10.3%
30 Beresford 2,235 4.5%
31 Hartford 3,145 3.7%
32 Summerset 2,412 3.1%
33 Milbank 3,210 7.3%
34 Fort Pierre 2,297 5.3%
35 Tea 5,098 3.0%
36 Dell Rapids 3,669 3.5%
37 Harrisburg 5,760 3.2%
38 Brandon 9,867 2.5%

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