This story has been updated to use the new minimum wage of $9.45 per hour which was effective Jan. 1
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A $1,400 stimulus check is bigger than a weekly paycheck for many South Dakotans.
And some South Dakotans may need that $1,400 more than others as the difference in weekly and median incomes is very different depending on the geographic location of the resident.
The average weekly wage in the state was $912 which is based on the data from the second quarter of 2020, the most recent available, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So, the certified nursing assistant (CNA) at a parent’s nursing home could be one of those employees most in need of that $1,400, based on hourly income. According to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation, the median hourly wage for a CNA is $13.39 per hour
South Dakota’s minimum wage is $9.45 per hour. At 40 hours a week, that is $378 a week or $1,512 a month. The $378 multiplied by 52 weeks is $19,656 a year.
Forty-nine of the state’s 66 counties have average weekly salaries of less than $850, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data is from the second quarter of 2020, the most recent available.
The highest average weekly salary was in Minnehaha County with $1,013.75,000. For counties that have fewer than 75,000 people employed, Union County had the highest average weekly wage at $1,088. Mellette County ($456) reported the lowest average weekly wage in the state.
The state’s per capita income is $30,773, according to the Census Bureau.
The federal poverty level is $12,880 for a single person household and $21,960 for a three-person household.
The median income in Clay County is $50,724 and 22.4% of the population is at poverty level or below. Clay County is home to Vermillion with a population of about 10,074 in 2019, according to the Census Bureau.
The median income means half of workers make more than that amount and half of workers make less than that amount.
But about an hour to the north in Brookings, the median income is $58,136 and 14.7% of the Brookings County population is at poverty level or lower. The estimated population of Brookings is 24,418.
Women may also need the $1,400 more then men. Although the percentage is higher than in states such as North Dakota, women’s earnings were 82.7% of a man’s earnings in 2018, according to the BLS.
How does South Dakota’s income compare to some neighboring Midwest states?
In most neighboring states, except Minnesota, the average weekly salary is below the national average of $1,118. Minnesota’s average weekly wage was $1,119.
The average weekly wage in Lincoln County, Minnesota, is $687. In Nobles County, it is $917.
Iowa has 99 counties and there are 95 counties with fewer than 75,000 people employed. None of those counties had higher than the U.S. average weekly wage of $1,118.
Of all 99 counties, Dallas County has the highest weekly wage $1,174 while Decatur County had the lowest at $666.
Sioux County’s average weekly salary was $858 while Lyon County’s was $736. According to federal data, 6.3% of Sioux County’s population is at or below the poverty level while 4.2% are in Lyon County.
The median income in Sioux County is $69,844 while it’s $64,982 in Lyon County.
Women’s earnings in Iowa are 77.1% of men’s earnings.
North of South Dakota in North Dakota, the average weekly wage is $1,061.
In Richland County, North Dakota, the median income is $61,371 but 10.9% of the population is at or below poverty level.
The median income is $56,681 in Adams County and 8.7% of the population is at or below poverty level. The median income in Sargent County is $63,073 and 4.2% of the population is at or below poverty level.
South, in Nebraska, Cedar County’s median income at $61,869 with 7.2% of the population at or below poverty levels.
The state’s average weekly income is $960.
A low-wage worker gets $1,400
The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately impacted low-wage earners.
For example, the server in a restaurant or housekeeping employee in a hotel.
Downtown Sioux Falls says 21.1% of the downtown workforce are low-wage earners that make $1,250 a month or less
Even in South Dakota, where there was not a statewide mandate on masks or implement statewide restrictions on restaurant seating, restaurants and hotels have suffered economically. The hotel industry is closely linked to the tourism industry in South Dakota and with fewer travelers and fewer conventions, hotels had fewer overnight stays.
While South Dakota is seeing an overall improvement in new unemployment claims and the unemployment rate, the 55,000 jobs in the tourism industry, may still suffer in the upcoming months. The South Dakota Department of Tourism says 55,000 jobs are tied to tourism but does not break down the number of full or part time jobs.
Although, wage reports early in the pandemic showed growth, economic experts and analysts attribute much of that wage growth to the loss of lower wage jobs.
“Average weekly earnings rose sharply during the pandemic-related recession, mostly because employment losses are concentrated in low-wage sectors and low-wage jobs within sectors,” an Oct. 30 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistic said.
Although South Dakota does not have income tax which can help close the income gap between the state’s average weekly wage and the U.S. average, 12% of the state’s population was still living in poverty.
More than 50% of the state’s renters were moderately or severely cost burdened with rent, according to multiple studies and reports including the Joint Center for Housing Study at Harvard and the National Low Income Housing Coalition. A moderately burdened household pays more than 30% of income for housing, including utilities; severely cost-burdened households pay more than 50%.
Some workers were still worried about future loss of income
The Census Bureau has been conducting regular household surveys since the start of the pandemic.
Information collected in week 21, for the latter part of December, the most recent available, said 21.2% of the South Dakota participants were worried about future loss of employment income. The number was similar in North Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.
It was higher in Minnesota, with 25.5% worried about a future loss in employment income.
An eviction or foreclosure was a concern for 59.1% of the surveyed households in South Dakota.
Just as incomes will range across the state, so will house prices and rentals.
A renter would need to make $24,859 a year for a fair market one bedroom in South Dakota. The income needed in Aurora County is $22,600, according to the National Low Income Housing Association.
According to Norada Real Estate Investments, the median rent in Sioux Falls was $1,100 for the end of 2019.
The median sales price of houses in the Sioux Falls area increased 11.7% to $238,500, according to a Jan. 7 report from the Realtor Association of the Sioux Empire.
A household needs an annual income $31,701 needed to afford a two-bedroom rental home at HUD’s Fair Market Rent in South Dakota, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
A $1,400 stimulus could cover rent, or a house payment for about a month at those rates.