These Are The 10 Worst Small Towns In South Dakota For 2019

Using science and data, we can tell you which teeny specks in SD are the pits.

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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 . This is our fourth time ranking the worst small places to live in South Dakota.

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Most Americans have never been to South Dakota. However, as the people who live there know, South Dakota is an awesome state.

But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, South Dakota has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Mount Rushmore State. Don’t shoot the messenger, this is all using data.

After analyzing more than 56 of South Dakota’s smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in South Dakota where you’d never want to live:

These are the worst small towns in South Dakota for 2019:

  1. Porcupine
  2. Fort Thompson
  3. Rosebud
  4. North Eagle Butte (Photos)
  5. Eagle Butte
  6. Pine Ridge (Photos)
  7. Wagner
  8. Mission
  9. Sisseton (Photos)
  10. Gregory

So what is the worst small town to call home in South Dakota for 2019? According to the most recent census data, Porcupine is the worst small town to live in South Dakota.

Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since South Dakota has its stuff figured out.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers, or scroll to the bottom to see how your town ranked.

And if you already know about the small towns, check out the best places to live in South Dakota or the worst places to live in South Dakota.

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

How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?

In order to rank the worst small towns to live in South Dakota, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, things to do and a stable economy.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

How we determined the worst small towns to live in South Dakota for 2019

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data and the Census’s 2013-2017 American Community Survey, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (The lower the worse)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Low housing costs (meaning there’s no demand)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Education (Number of high school dropouts)
  • High Crime

We looked at cities with populations between 1,000 and 5,000 people, of which, there were a lot – 56 to be exact.

Additional note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. Dropout numbers are based on the adult population, not just the current graduation rates of teenagers.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,482
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $12,800 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 22.0% (4th worst)
More on Porcupine:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,271
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $46,400 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.3% (6th worst)
More on Fort Thompson:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,528
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $37,500 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.0% (8th worst)
More on Rosebud:  Data

North Eagle Butte, SD

Source: Wikipedia
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,106
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $47,600 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 40.6% (1st worst)
More on North Eagle Butte:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,182
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $48,600 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 36.4% (3rd worst)
More on Eagle Butte:  Data

Pine Ridge, SD

Source: Wikipedia User |
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 3,487
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $10,000 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 19.8% (5th worst)
More on Pine Ridge:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,494
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $83,000 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (13th worst)
More on Wagner:  Data

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,220
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $50,400 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 17.8% (7th worst)
More on Mission:  Data

Sisseton, SD

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 2,548
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $70,100 (11th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (10th worst)
More on Sisseton:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 1,430
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $69,200 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 1.4% (42nd worst)
More on Gregory:  Data

There You Have It – The Worst Small Towns In South Dakota

If you’re analyzing teeny places in the Mount Rushmore State with the worst economic situations, where there’s high crime and there’s not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

If you’re curious enough, here are the best small towns to live in South Dakota, according to science:

  1. Worthing (Pop. 1,114)
  2. Tea (Pop. 4,866)
  3. Crooks (Pop. 1,349)

For more South Dakota reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In South Dakota

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Porcupine 1,482 22.0% $12,800
2 Fort Thompson 1,271 19.3% $46,400
3 Rosebud 1,528 13.0% $37,500
4 North Eagle Butte 2,106 40.6% $47,600
5 Eagle Butte 1,182 36.4% $48,600
6 Pine Ridge 3,487 19.8% $10,000
7 Wagner 1,494 6.5% $83,000
8 Mission 1,220 17.8% $50,400
9 Sisseton 2,548 9.6% $70,100
10 Gregory 1,430 1.4% $69,200
11 Flandreau 2,440 5.5% $88,000
12 Lemmon 1,335 6.3% $57,300
13 Martin 1,019 3.4% $64,300
14 Clark 1,351 4.2% $73,800
15 Lead 3,021 7.7% $111,600
16 Webster 1,808 1.2% $77,400
17 Hill City 1,180 11.5% $155,000
18 Freeman 1,322 2.8% $75,100
19 Tyndall 1,151 1.3% $83,200
20 Mobridge 3,420 5.2% $86,800
21 North Sioux City 2,693 6.3% $134,000
22 Alcester 1,019 1.5% $85,400
23 Parkston 1,645 7.2% $92,600
24 Hot Springs 3,519 3.1% $108,100
25 Redfield 2,623 2.0% $71,200
26 Chamberlain 2,653 3.6% $139,900
27 Blackhawk 3,000 2.5% $145,000
28 Deadwood 1,386 1.2% $147,600
29 Winner 2,854 0.6% $88,800
30 Salem 1,394 4.4% $93,400
31 Custer 2,124 5.2% $153,700
32 Canton 3,352 2.8% $123,400
33 Clear Lake 1,307 0.5% $96,400
34 Whitewood 1,062 2.2% $115,500
35 Milbank 3,178 5.0% $108,200
36 Springfield 1,962 1.1% $76,800
37 De Smet 1,162 2.7% $93,900
38 Miller 1,481 1.3% $108,700
39 North Spearfish 2,464 2.3% $195,300
40 Platte 1,509 1.4% $114,000
41 Baltic 1,108 3.2% $150,600
42 Gettysburg 1,233 0.7% $85,800
43 Elk Point 2,231 1.9% $135,900
44 Lennox 2,190 1.5% $112,800
45 Garretson 1,221 1.8% $146,900
46 Fort Pierre 2,276 1.3% $157,600
47 Summerset 2,285 3.9% $217,400
48 Beresford 2,212 1.2% $118,300
49 Volga 2,127 2.3% $148,200
50 Hartford 3,043 1.5% $174,400
51 Britton 1,687 0.9% $86,700
52 Dell Rapids 3,683 1.0% $156,800
53 Groton 1,965 1.0% $162,000
54 Worthing 1,114 1.2% $130,800
55 Tea 4,866 2.4% $196,000
56 Crooks 1,349 0.0% $170,600

10 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Small Towns In South Dakota For 2019

  1. You forgot Fruitdale SD. Population is about 50 people if we are lucky. It’s 10 miles outside of belle fourche on Highway 212. Lots of crime. Low house costs. Low income. But it’s a town.

  2. Can’t believe Eureka was so low on the list – 2 lakes for fishing, water skiing, and jet skiing, golf course, bowling alley, 2 softball fields, tennis courts, nice park, 6 churches, hospital, dentist, chiropractor, museum, fitness center….

  3. I’ve been seeing this go around. I have some personal thoughts. The first thing I seen was “using science and data,” the second thing I noticed is that they are all reservation areas, and finally the word choice being “the Mount Rushmore state.” SO to me that all just looks like self-serving data done on the outside of tribes. This “research,” is similar to the two studies (ASU & Havasupai lawsuit-research study & Barrow alcohol study) that were used to demoralize Indigenous Peoples and led to tribally own research data because of the research stigma between tribes and outside institutions/universities. Hmmm… Also “data,” does not include the beautiful culture and values of these communities, which is a colonized concept of deeming something unworthy (in this case, the smallest worst towns in SD). Like I said, self-serving, creating these unworthy notions about these places. Interesting how America made reservations as a place not intended to prosper and yet individuals share “science and data,” on this, but forget to add in the historical aspect of genocide and colonization. These are my thoughts. Oh! Also, the word choice on Mount Rushmore state, in which the black hills are sacred to the Oceti Sakowin and was taken from us because of gold and tourism, as a means to be materialistic and make a profit. Hmmm…I think they should redo it and make their platform more useful by covering the beauty of our people, culture, language, and RESILIENCY.

  4. Maybe instead of demeaning reservation towns with “unbiased” statistics, we actually begin to understand the reasons these places aren’t up to your privileged standards. Please next time understand the context of the areas you’re putting down. The reservation towns are rich in culture and rich in beauty..something that most do not understand. These are resilient communities with loving, generous individuals, and if you cannot see that, that is your own problem.

  5. This is very sad. I would suggest you check out these communities. You will discover several things:
    1. Most are on or near a Native Indian Reservations. The Natives, historically, were given no choice on where they an go. To leave, it takes money. To get money, it takes jobs. There are no jobs in many of these communities.

    2. Geographically, they are not near anything major. Again, they were not given choices (read #1)

    3. Some of the best people I know either live there or were from there.

    What you are doing is socially unacceptable. Go there, visit, experience, then talk about the worst places to live. I can tell a lot worst places than some on that list.

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