Economy of South Dakota

By | March 4, 2023

South Dakota is a state located in the Great Plains region of the United States. It has a population of approximately 882,235 and an area of 77,116 square miles. The economy of South Dakota is largely based on agriculture and tourism.

Agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to South Dakota’s economy. It accounts for about 20 percent of the state’s total economic output and employs around 12 percent of its workforce. The main crops produced in South Dakota are corn, wheat, soybeans, oats, barley, and hay. Livestock production also plays a major role in the state’s agricultural economy with cattle being the leading livestock commodity. Other important agricultural products include sunflowers, dry beans, flaxseed, potatoes, and honey.

Tourism is another key sector in South Dakota’s economy. It contributes around $2 billion annually to the state’s GDP and employs nearly 9 percent of its workforce. Popular tourist attractions include Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Badlands National Park; Custer State Park; Wind Cave National Park; Jewel Cave National Monument; Crazy Horse Memorial; Reptile Gardens; Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary; Bear Country USA; and various historic sites such as Deadwood Gulch Gaming Resort and Fort Pierre Chouteau Historic Site.

Manufacturing is also an important sector in South Dakota’s economy with food processing being the largest industry followed by fabricated metals and machinery manufacturing industries. Some other notable industries include printing/publishing services, plastics production/processing services, chemical production/processing services, wood products manufacturing services, electrical equipment/supplies manufacturing services as well as apparel production/processing services.

The service industry also plays a major role in South Dakota’s economy with retail trade being one of its largest sectors followed by health care & social assistance as well as accommodation & food service industries respectively. Other important service sectors include finance & insurance activities; professional scientific & technical activities; administrative & support services-related activities; real estate activities.

Overall, South Dakota has a diversified economic base that includes agriculture tourism manufacturing retail trade healthcare social assistance accommodation & food service finance & insurance professional scientific & technical administrative & support services real estate activities which contribute significantly to its economic output employment rate GDP per capit.

Top 3 Counties in South Dakota

According to, main counties in South Dakota include:

1. Pennington County: Pennington County is located in the southwestern corner of South Dakota and is home to the city of Rapid City, the second-largest city in the state. This county has a population of over 100,000 people and offers many attractions for visitors, including Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, Wind Cave National Park, and Badlands National Park. With its vast plains and rolling hills, Pennington County is a great spot for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, camping, horseback riding, mountain biking and more. The county also boasts some of the best restaurants in South Dakota with a wide variety of cuisines to choose from.

2. Minnehaha County: Located in southeastern South Dakota along the Big Sioux River Valley near Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County is home to over 180,000 people. It’s main attractions include Falls Park on the Big Sioux River and Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History which are popular tourist destinations that draw visitors from around the world each year. Other attractions include Sertoma Butterfly House & Marine Cove Aquarium as well as numerous parks throughout the county offering an array of activities such as swimming pools, playgrounds and picnic areas.

3. Custer County: Nestled in southwestern South Dakota near Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial is Custer County with a population just over 8500 people making it one of South Dakota’s least populous counties but also one of its most beautiful spots to visit or live in with its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. This rural county offers plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities including camping at Custer State Park or exploring caves at Wind Cave National Park or taking a scenic drive on Iron Mountain Road where you can see some amazing views from above! There are also several small towns within Custer County where visitors can find unique shops selling local goods as well as cafes serving delicious meals made with locally sourced ingredients.

Economy of South Dakota