South Dakota’s Economic History in One Chart

PCPI-IncomeGrowthA while back I was reading through a report on Iowa’s economy when I came across a chart that compared average per capita personal income (PCPI) by state and the national average. I was struck both by how far behind South Dakota had been and impressed by how far South Dakota has come.

South Dakota is the dark blue line way at the bottom on the left side of the chart. Back in the 20’s and 30’s South Dakotans’ average income was only 40% to 60% of the national average and much lower than nearby states. From 1940 to about 1990, South Dakotans’ income was 80% to 90% of the national average and lower than our neighbors.

But things started to change for the positive after 2000. South Dakota PCPI continued to increase while other states stagnated or dropped. By 2010, South Dakota was at the national average and ahead of most of our neighbors. Keep in mind, PCPI is not adjusted for cost of living, but if it were South Dakota would rank much higher on this chart.

Interesting to note that in 2003 South Dakota also became an in-migration state. Prior to that, more people moved out of South Dakota than moved in from other states. In 2003, and every year after, more people moved into South Dakota than moved out each year. People move to a new state because they believe they will have an opportunity for a better life. South Dakota’s steadily rising level of personal income is an opportunity that other Americans are noticing.

This chart better tells South Dakota’s economic history than any one chart I have seen. The fact is that per capita personal income in South Dakota is rising much faster than in most any other state. This upward trend should encourage South Dakotans that their future and their children’s future look very bright.


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Categories: Economy, South Dakota Advantage

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