Bart Pfankuch / S.D. News Watch
More than 40,000 South Dakota children, from infants to teenagers, live in families with incomes low enough to qualify for the federal food stamp program, creating challenges to obtaining a fruitful childhood and a prosperous life in adulthood. The number of children in South Dakota families receiving aid in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program rose by 47 percent from 2007 to 2017.
Every year, about 30 percent of South Dakota high school graduates who enroll in a state university must take remedial courses in math or English because they don't test high enough in those topics. Those courses cost the students about $1,000 per class and provide them with no college credit. The classes are designed to help college-bound students catch up and be ready to take algebra, English composition or other basic classes needed to graduate.
Jobs are plentiful in South Dakota, but most positions pay well below the national average and far lower than neighboring states. In fact, South Dakota has the third-lowest average wage for employed people in the country behind only Arkansas and Mississippi. An analysis shows that the lowest-paying jobs—in office support, food service and sales—dominate the state workforce.
The pending closure of Shopko department stores may have devastating effects on six South Dakota small towns that will suffer job losses, decreased access to basic necessities and sales-tax reductions that could limit municipal services.
The struggling Shopko retail chain has added Chamberlain and Custer to the growing list of small towns in South Dakota that will lose their only department store in the coming months. A spokeswoman for the Wisconsin-based retail chain said Thursday that it will begin liquidating merchandise at its stores in Chamberlain and Custer this week in advance of closure in the next three months. The statement follows the announcement in December that Shopko will close its stores in Dell Rapids, Redfield, Wagner and Webster in February.
In South Dakota and across the country, women will play a larger role in lawmaking and policymaking at almost all levels of government in 2019.
An obscure South Dakota law can force adult children to pay the cost of long-term care for their parents if the elder family members cannot pay on their own. The civil law has been on the books in South Dakota since 1939, and is rarely used. But as the cost of long-term care skyrockets and nursing facilities increasingly face financial challenges, elder law experts theorize the law may be enacted more often when nursing home bills go unpaid.
The health and stability of some of South Dakota's most vulnerable residents are being threatened by a wave of closures of long-term care facilities across the state. Three nursing homes closed over the past three years and two more are slated for closure by February. Another 17 former Golden Living Centers are now being operated by a state-approved receivership created after the New Jersey firm running the homes went bankrupt.
As the Nov. 6 election approaches, campaign operatives from the two established political parties in South Dakota are working furiously to attract voters from a somewhat mysterious, yet growing and increasingly influential voting bloc: The Independents. Republicans and Democrats in South Dakota are making phone calls and knocking on doors to convince the 126,418 voters registered as Independent or No Party Affiliation to vote for their party's candidates.
In the next six months, two cities will arise on the South Dakota prairie with populations larger than most of the existing towns west of the Missouri River. Two similar cities will be built in 2020. The temporary towns will exist for up to two years, include several dozen buildings and each be inhabited by up to 1,400 workers, mostly well-paid and in their 20s, 30s and 40s.