Immigrants in South Dakota

August 6, 2020

South Dakota has a small but growing immigrant community, with many emigrating from Guatemala, the Philippines, and Mexico. While a small share of South Dakota’s population was born in another country, foreign-born residents support the state’s economy across sectors. Immigrants make up a critical share of the state’s labor force. For example, 16 percent of all residents working in the manufacturing industry are immigrants, as are 11 percent of the state’s workers in healthcare support occupations. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of South Dakota’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Four percent of South Dakota residents are immigrants, while another 4 percent of residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2018, 35,175 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 4 percent of the population.
  • South Dakota was home to 15,647 women, 15,622 men, and 3,906 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Guatemala (8 percent of immigrants), the Philippines (7 percent), Mexico (7 percent), Sudan (6 percent), and Ethiopia (5 percent).
  • In 2018, 33,628 people in South Dakota (4 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

More than a third of all immigrants in South Dakota are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 12,693 immigrants (36 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 5,256 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
  • Four-fifths (81 percent) of immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Most immigrants in South Dakota have at least a high school education.

  • One-fourth (26 percent) of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2018, while under a third (30 percent) had less than a high school diploma.

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

26

29

Some college

13

33

High school diploma only

31

31

Less than a high school diploma

30

7

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2018 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates.

Thousands of U.S. citizens in South Dakota live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 5,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 19 percent of the immigrant population and 1 percent of the total state population in 2016.
  • 6,762 people in South Dakota, including 3,609 U.S. citizens, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, about 1 percent of children in the state were U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (2,485 children in total).

South Dakota is home to dozens of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

  • §  190 active DACA recipients lived in South Dakota as of March 2020, while DACA has been granted to 241 people in total since 2012. 

Immigrants are important members of the South Dakota labor force across industries.

  • 21,148 immigrant workers comprised 5 percent of the labor force in 2018. 
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Manufacturing

8,039

Health Care and Social Assistance

3,978

Accommodation and Food Services

2,575

Retail Trade

2,101

Public Administration

1,207

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • The largest shares of immigrant workers were in the following industries:

Industry

Immigrant Share (%)
(of all industry workers)

Manufacturing

16

Accommodation and Food Services

7

Information

6

Health Care and Social Assistance

5

Mining, Quarrying, and Oil & Gas Extraction

5

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

Immigrants are an integral part of the South Dakota workforce in a range of occupations.

  • In 2018, immigrant workers were most numerous in the following occupation groups:

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Production

4,970

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

2,534

Transportation and Material Moving

2,459

Sales and Related

2,281

Food Preparation and Serving

2,028

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • The largest shares of immigrant workers were in the following occupation groups:

Occupation Category

Immigrant Share (%)
(of all workers in occupation)

Production

15

Healthcare Support

11

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

8

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

7

Architecture and Engineering

6

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 1 percent of South Dakota’s workforce in 2016.

Immigrants in South Dakota have contributed over $100 million in taxes.

As consumers, immigrants add nearly half a billion dollars to South Dakota’s economy.

  • South Dakota residents in immigrant-led households had $495 million in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in South Dakota generate millions of dollars in business revenue.

  • 756 immigrant business owners accounted for 1 percent of all self-employed South Dakota residents in 2018 and generated $6.4 million in business income.

§  190 active DACA recipients lived in South Dakota as of March 2020, while DACA has been granted to 241 people in total since 2012.

Most Read

  • Publications
  • Blog Posts
  • Past:
  • Trending